Attorneys general of at least 18 states, medical associations, school administrators, and tech giants are rallying around Gavin Grimm, the transgender teenager whose fight to use school facilities consistent with his gender identity will play out in the Supreme Court later this month.
Grimm, in his battle against the Gloucester County School Board, has become a champion for transgender rights across the country. Oral arguments in the case are slated to begin March 28. Justices will weigh the definition and interpretation of Title IX, the 1973-enacted law that prohibits gender-based discrimination in federally funded schools. Attorneys representing Grimm hold that transgender students are also protected under Title IX.
Here’s who is fighting on behalf of Grimm:
Attorneys general from New York and Washington state filed a joint statement to the court, known as an amicus brief, on Thursday in support of Grimm. The full list of states that joined is California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.
The attorneys general cite “stigma,” isolation,” “harsh discrimination,” hate crimes, high suicide rates, and high homeless rates experienced by transgender Americans. They specifically noted that seven trans women have been killed since the start of 2017.
The brief also notes that Grimm’s case “is not unique,” citing a recent study that indicated that more than two-thirds of transgender students surveyed “avoided school restrooms because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable,” which, in turn, caused health problems, such as kidney-related problems or infections.
New York City, San Francisco, and 29 other cities also filed a brief in support of Grimm.
On Jan. 23, 21 red states plus the governors of Kentucky and Maine filed their own amicus brief in support of the Gloucester County School Board, whose rules mandate transgender students to use segregated bathrooms or facilities corresponding to the sex they were assigned at birth.
Dozens of transgender students added their names — some added their photos — to a brief supporting Grimm.They recounted their own experiences of bullying, harassment, discrimination, and loneliness.
Marilyn Morrison, an 8-year-old from Texas, says she has identified as a girl as long as she can remember, but her school forced her to use a segregated restroom in the library, which effectively “outed” her to her peers. She faced daily bullying, and said she has nonstop headaches and stomachaches from the stress. Other students “said I was disgusting, they said their families were disgusted by me and that I should move,” Marilyn said. “I’m just trying to learn. We’re all human. We’re all the same. It’s not like some of us are aliens from Krypton or something.”
Emma, a 16-year-old from Kentucky, said her school doesn’t allow her to use the female bathroom or the staff bathroom and that she doesn’t feel safe using boys’ facilities. As a result, she avoids drinking water during the day. She said that other students routinely call her by her birth name, hurl derogatory slurs at her, refer to her as “it,” and destroy her school folders. But the school doesn’t take action, she said.
One hundred transgender American adults — including teachers, astrophysicists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, and a truck driver — also signed a brief.
Medical associations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American College of physicians filed a brief affirming scientific and medical research on gender dysphoria, whose recommended treatment includes being able to live in a way consistent with a person’s gender identity, which includes restroom access.
School administrators in 31 states filed a brief explaining how “policies respectful of every student’s gender identity minimize disruptions and help create a safe, welcoming, and productive learning environment for all.”
The National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and other groups also filed a brief.
Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also filed a brief, along with former Education Secretary John King Jr. and other officials who served in the Obama administration in either the Justice Department’s civil rights division, the Department of Labor, or the Department of Education.
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
One hundred and ninety-six members of Congress, including 50 senators, have thrown their weight behind Grimm. Leading Senate Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer, Minority Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Al Franken, and Sen. Tammy Baldwin lead an amicus brief to the court.
More than 53 businesses joined a brief filed by the Human Rights Campaign, a nonprofit LGBTQ organization. Companies rallying behind Grimm include tech giants like Apple, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Tumblr, and Yahoo.
Corporations also played an important role in the showdown over North Carolina’s HB2 “Bathroom Bill,” which barred trans residents from using public bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. Sixty-eight companies, including Apple, Nike, and American Airlines, filed a court brief against North Carolina in an effort to block HB2. Other companies boycotted North Carolina or cancelled plans to open businesses there, costing the state more than $400 million last year.