PORTLAND, Ore. -- The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Oregon filed a brief today with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, defending a school district’s decision to allow a transgender student to use restrooms and locker rooms that match his gender identity. The ACLU represents Basic Rights Oregon, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy group.
“Cases like the one being brought by Parents for Privacy are part of a nationwide trend targeting transgender youth, and it’s abhorrent,” says Nancy Haque, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon. “But we’re fighting it every step of the way to defend students’ safety, dignity, and access to education here in Oregon and across the nation.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to take similar case out of Pennsylvania. In July of 2018, The Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the idea that transgender students are a threat to other students and ruled in favor of the school district. The high court has yet to say if it will take up the case.
“Lawsuits like these target trans and non-binary youth, and are designed to intimidate schools that are doing the right thing,” said Gabriel Arkles, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project. “But every court presented with this question has recognized, just as the district court in Oregon did, that the presence of transgender students in public restrooms and locker rooms does not violate anyone else’s rights.”
In 2017, a small group of parents and students in Oregon calling themselves “Parents for Privacy” and “Parents Rights in Education” filed a complaint against the Dallas School District and other state and federal officials for the district’s policy protecting a transgender student from discrimination The ACLU and Basic Rights Oregon intervened in the case in order to defend the rights of transgender and non-binary students in public schools throughout Oregon. Last July, the district court wholly rejected the claims of the groups seeking to legalize discrimination, finding schools are not only permitted, but required, to treat transgender students equally under the law.
“My child has a right to the same protections that every student deserves,” said Joy Wilson, a member of the Fierce Families Network and parent of a transgender student. “As a parent, and as part of a broader community that fights for transgender youth, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that every student has a fair chance to succeed in school so they can prepare for their future.”
“Every student deserves to be safe and welcomed at school, said Mat dos Santos, legal director at the ACLU of Oregon. “Dallas School District did the right thing by creating policies that upheld the rights of all students including transgender students. A small group is trying to get those policies thrown out, and they already lost once at the district court. Federal courts repeatedly have rejected the arguments made by the plaintiffs and we expect the Ninth Circuit to do the same.”
Counsel on the motion to intervene and the motion to dismiss include Mat dos Santos and Kelly Simon of the ACLU of Oregon; Gabriel Arkles and Shayna Medley-Warsoff of the ACLU; and Darin M. Sands, Peter Hawkes, and Kelsey Benedick of Lane Powell LLP.