22 states back trans-identified student suing Florida school over bathroom policy

All gender bathrooms
Reuters/Jonathan Drake/File Photo

The attorneys general of 22 states and the District of Columbia have signed onto a brief demanding that a Florida school district allow a trans-identified student use the bathroom that matches their chosen gender identity rather than biological sex.

The states and the District filed an amicus brief on Friday in the case of Drew Adams v. the School Board of St. John’s County, Florida, arguing that the school district's rules on separate bathrooms for male and female students were discriminatory in nature.

“The policy violates Title IX by denying transgender boys and girls access to the same common restrooms that other boys and girls may use,” stated the amicus brief.

“Further, because the policy fails to advance any legitimate interest such as protecting public safety or personal privacy, its only function is to stigmatize a particular group, which violates equal protection.”

The attorneys general signing onto the brief included the District of Columbia and the states of New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.

New York Attorney General Letitia James released a statement on Monday arguing that the litigation was “about more than just equal bathroom access.”

“Denying transgender students access to the correct bathroom cultivates a culture of intolerance and is blatant discrimination,” stated James. “Drew Adams should have never been discriminated against and the continued efforts to discriminate against transgender students is exactly why our coalition will do everything in our power to ensure they are provided with equal protection under the law.”

Born female but presently identifying as male, Adams and her mother filed a lawsuit against school officials in 2017 when a high school would not allow Adams to use the boys’ bathroom, but instead told Adams to use either a gender-neutral, single-stall bathroom or the girls’ bathrooms.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan ruled in favor of Adams in July 2018, with the school district appealing the decision. Adams has since graduated from high school.

Although a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled 2-1 in favor of Adams in August 2020, the full appeals court vacated the ruling in an order released in August of this year.

In late October, attorneys general representing 18 states filed an amicus brief on behalf of the school district, arguing that school officials did not violate federal antidiscrimination law.

“The restroom issue that is presented in this case and similar issues that will inevitably follow involving locker rooms, athletic teams and pronouns involve sensitive policy considerations and myriad competing interests,” stated the brief in support of the school district.

“Allowing a transgender student to use the locker room that corresponds to the student’s gender identity has repercussions for other students who may lose the ability to change clothing in private, without being exposed to members of the opposite sex.”

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