12 States File Brief Supporting Obama Administration’s Historic Guidance on Transgender Students

by Ianthe Metzger

HRC hails action on behalf of administration efforts to ensure dignity, equal treatment of all students

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, hailed Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson for filing a brief on behalf of 12 states, and the District of Columbia, supporting the recent release by the Departments of Education and Justice of historic guidance advising schools on how to ensure dignity and equal treatment of transgender students in federally-funded schools.

California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Washington, DC, are joining the amicus brief supporting transgender students, which is being filed today in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas.

“These leaders are showing the nation what it means to stand up for all students, ensuring that our transgender youth are affirmed and respected in one of the places they should feel  most safe - their schools,” said Sarah Warbelow, HRC Legal Director. “No student should have to live in fear of being who they are, and we thank the tireless advocates working to guarantee a future full of opportunity for all young people.”

Earlier this month, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of 10 states seeking to block the historic guidance released by the Departments of Education and Justice earlier this year. The suit mirrors a similar legal attack led Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of his state and 10 others.

According to BuzzFeed News the 12-state brief counters those lawsuits, asserting that the administration’s action and similar policies protect transgender individuals from high rates of discrimination and violence. Contrary to claims being made by Paxton and Peterson, Ferguson’s brief states, “our shared experience demonstrates that protecting the civil rights of our transgender friends, relatives, classmates, and colleagues creates no public safety threat and imposes no meaningful financial burden.” More pointedly, the brief states, “their allegations of safety risks are unsupported hyperbole, their claimed loss of federal funding is distant and avoidable, and their claims of massive renovation costs lack support in the law and the record.  While Plaintiffs’ claimed harms are hypothetical, the discrimination suffered by transgender individuals is all too real.”

In May, HRC released a letter signed by national organizations representing almost 5 million educators, pediatricians, counselors and other child welfare providers urging lawmakers like Paxton to stop their political attacks on transgender youth. These organizations include the American Federation of Teachers, the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Counseling Association; the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Education Association.

HRC Welcoming Schools has released a key resource for school officials to effectively and respectfully follow recent guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on the rights of transgender students. The guide answers questions school officials may be asked by parents, guardians and other community members.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community


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