TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A lawsuit about whether a transgender student should have been allowed to use boys’ bathrooms at a Northeast Florida high school has become a battleground for states across the country.
In two briefs filed at a federal appeals court, 40 states and the District of Columbia have chosen sides in the case stemming from a St. Johns County School Board policy that prevented Drew Adams from using boys’ bathrooms at Nease High School.
The latest salvo came Friday, when 22 states and the District of Columbia filed a brief at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that sided with Adams and said the school-board policy violates constitutional equal-protection rights and Title IX, a federal law that bars sex-based discrimination.
“The board’s policy needlessly denies Adams something most people take for granted: the ability to use a public restroom consistent with one’s lived experience of one’s own gender,” the brief said. “The policy singles out transgender students like Adams and forces them either to forgo restroom use or to choose between two other detrimental options: using common restrooms corresponding to their sex assigned at birth or using special single-user restrooms (i.e., those with no specific gender designation).”
Signing on to the brief were the attorneys general in New York, Washington, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Friday’s filing came a month after attorneys general in 18 other states filed a brief that backed the St. Johns County policy and disputed it violated federal law. That brief also pointed to broader implications of the dispute.
“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,” the Oct. 26 brief said. “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. Likewise, allowing a transgender student to compete on an athletic team consistent with the student’s gender identity has repercussions for other students who may lose competitive opportunities or be subjected to an increased risk of injury. And allowing a transgender student to dictate what pronouns other students and school employees must use has significant repercussions for the First Amendment rights of those other students and employees.”
Signing on to the brief were attorneys general in Tennessee, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia.
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