In 2020, HRC took a bold step forward to expand our legal work in the courtroom and build a collaborative hub for pro bono strategic litigation. Our goal: to reshape courts’ perspectives on the reality of the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people across this country. Not as a theoretical exercise, but through the lens of the diverse lives we lead, the ways in which we learn to daily navigate the obstacles of bias that our civil rights laws are intended to dismantle, and the real-world consequences those obstacles have on our ability to live fully and freely, particularly those of us whose identities are at the intersection of multiple oppressive systems.
A.S. et al v. Lee et. al: In 2021, Tennessee enacted five anti-transgender laws after its legislative session. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, joined by the law firm of Linklaters, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in the District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee challenging a discriminatory law that denies transgender students, faculty, and staff access to the bathroom, locker rooms and other sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity. The case is brought on behalf of 14-year-old Alex* and his parents, Amy A. and Jeff S., as well as 6-year-old Ariel* and her parents, Julie and Ross B.
Alex is excited to start high school this fall where he will be an honor student. His family relocated to Tennessee in 2018 to build their ‘forever home’ in an incredibly supportive and tight-knit neighborhood. He came out as transgender before the 7th grade, however, in 7th grade he was not allowed to use the boys’ restroom. Instead, Alex was forced to either use the school nurse’s private bathroom or the restroom that corresponded to his gender assigned at birth—not due to statewide legislation, but instead due to the school policy. Both options were alienating and isolating for Alex who instead stopped drinking liquids at school altogether to avoid having to use the facilities. Due to COVID-19 pandemic-related issues, Alex transferred to a private school for 8th grade that affirmed his gender identity, including permitting access to the boys’ restroom—Alex enjoyed a great year, without incident. He is also looking forward to starting high school at the public school near his home, but due to Tennessee’s discriminatory bathroom law, Alex will again be forced into using restrooms that are stigmatizing or forgo using the bathroom altogether.
Similar to Alex, Ariel 's family built their ‘forever home’ from the ground up in a neighborhood they fell in love with and that fills Julie, Ross, and Ariel with happiness and friendship. Under Tennessee’s discriminatory bathroom law, Ariel will be forced use the boy’s restroom or the private nurse’s bathroom despite only ever using the girl’s restroom. Due to her young age, Ariel does not understand the law’s ramifications or why she is being told to use the boy’s bathroom.
D.N. v. Ron DeSantis et. al.: In 2021, Florida became one of the 8 states to pass laws that restrict transgender women and girls from participation in women’s sports. HRC, joined by the law firm of Arnold & Porter, filed a lawsuit challenging the discriminatory Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, representing a 13-year-old transgender girl.
This case in Florida is brought on behalf of 13-year-old Daisy* and her parents Jessica and Gary N. Daisy is starting 8th grade in the fall and has participated in team sports since she was 8 years old. She finds joy, friendship and acceptance in basketball, softball, and currently, as a goalie on three different soccer teams. The Florida law will force Daisy to either play on the boys’ soccer team at school, which she will not do, or quit sports altogether which would be detrimental to her academic and social development, while also potentially risking her personal privacy and safety.
Daisy has only participated on girls’ sports teams; while some of her teammates and coaches are aware of her transgender identity, others are not. She has enjoyed a supportive school and team environment and continues to play without incident with other teammates, opposing players and coaches, or parents of other student athletes. With her parents’ support, Daisy began receiving gender-affirming medical care in middle school.
Get the minute-by-minute updates from us and read about our lawsuits in Florida and Tennessee.
Walker v. Azar (2020): HRC, joined by the law firm of Baker Hostetler LLP, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s attempt to roll back protections against discrimination for LGBTQ+ people in the Affordable Care Act. In August 2020, a federal district court judge issued a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the harmful rule from taking effect during the height of a global pandemic. Learn more about our plaintiffs Tanya Walker and Cecilia Gentili.
Tarrant County v. Sims (2021): HRC, represented by the law firm of Winston & Strawn, joined a Texas state employment discrimination lawsuit as amicus curie to establish the first ever state level protections for LGBTQ+ workers in Texas.
* Daisy's name has been changed to protect her anonymity.