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Groundswell of legal support for transgender teen whose fight is before the Supreme Court

The Wisconsin Gazette

Individuals and institutions from across the country representing a diverse and extraordinary cross-section of interests, perspectives and concerns filed friend-of-court briefs today in support of Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old high school student from Virginia.

The case is over a school board’s refusal to allow him access to the boys’ restroom because he is transgender. The dispute will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on March 28.

The case, Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., has elevated national discussion on the importance of reinforcing and protecting the rights of transgender students and it has drawn support from people across the country urging the court to ensure fair and equal treatment for transgender students under the law.

That growing support was showcased in the briefs filed March 2 in support of Gavin by legal experts, families of trans students and many others. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Gavin, was compiling briefs today.

“The overwhelming level of support demonstrated for Gavin today from fellow transgender youth, business leaders, educators, faith leaders, medical professionals, political leaders and more underscores the urgency of stopping these attempts at expelling trans people from public life,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT Project. “Trans people deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else, and it’s heartening to see individuals and institutions across the country standing with Gavin in his fight.”

The filing of friend-of-court briefs show support from:

• More than 1,800 faith leaders.

• Many of the nation’s most prominent business leaders (including Apple, Airbnb, eBay, Microsoft, PayPal, Salesforce).

• Major medical associations representing the scientific and medical consensus (including American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, Endocrine Society).

• Labor unions representing more than a million teachers.

• More than 60 current and former law enforcement officials from across the country.

• Major civil rights organizations (including NAACP, National Women’s Law Center, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights).

And a number of other groups and individuals across the country representing educators, students, parents, lawyers, artists, scientists and veterans.

“One of the most important missions we have as a district is to create safe and welcoming learning environments where all students, including transgender and gender-nonconforming students, are respected and can flourish,” said Tommy Chang, superintendent of Boston Public Schools. “Although the federal government recently rescinded its guidance protecting transgender students in our nation’s schools, transgender and gender nonconforming students in the Boston Public Schools will remain protected from discrimination, bullying and harassment.”

“All students should feel safe in school, including transgender individuals,” said Rev. David W. Key, founding pastor of Lake Oconee Community Church in Greensboro, Georgia. “At the heart of all faith traditions is the support for human dignity. As a Baptist minister, I urge all good people of faith to rally for this cause. Gavin Grim deserves our unwavering support.”

As organizations and individuals filed friend-of-court briefs in support of Gavin, more than 500 Christian moms from across the country sent a letter of support, stating “we want you to know that we care about you and recognize the courage it takes to stand up for trans rights the way you are doing. We are moms who understand because some of our own children have had to exhibit the same kind of courage when they finally determined to come out and began living fully into the person they were created to be.”

Transgender students and their parents also spoke out in support of Gavin.

“When I came out as a transgender boy at my school, I was singled out and asked to use a separate restroom simply because I am transgender,” said Brandon Adams, a 15-year-old transgender teenager from Framingham, Massachusetts. “When I complied with the school’s request and used a gender-neutral restroom, other students would physically harass and bully me. Because of their hatred and fear, I often avoided the restroom at school, causing me to drink less water, get headaches, and feel dehydrated. I asked to use the boys’ restroom because that’s where I felt safe, because that’s who I am — a boy. Schools should support students in any way they can, and make all kids feel safe, so we can focus on our education and on being kids. I hope the Supreme Court listens to our stories and stands up for equal treatment for kids like me and Gavin.”

“When Brandon came out as transgender at his school, administrators were mostly supportive, but they simply seemed at a loss for what to do, especially because they were untrained and uneducated about what it means to be transgender,” said Jonathan Eber, father of transgender teenager Brandon Adams in Framingham, Massachusetts. “The solution was simple: Brandon is a boy, and he belongs with other boys, not treated differently because of who he is. Brandon has been thriving at school ever since his school updated their policies to be fully inclusive and supportive of transgender students. Kids should be thinking about their first date, about getting their driver’s license, about applying to college — not living in fear. Being transgender is only one part of who Brandon is and there is so much more to his story. We hope the Supreme Court affirms fairness for all of our children so that no one has to face discrimination when they should be focused on their education.”

“This is not a case about bathrooms — it is a case about fundamental civil rights,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. “Separate but equal is not equal. We know that from our history, and we know that from our hearts. Stigmatizing an already vulnerable group is not an American value. Equality, compassion, and being true to yourself — those are qualities we all embrace.”

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