March 8, 2019

Willkie files amicus brief on behalf of various national education groups in important transgender rights case.

On February 28, Willkie filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on behalf of educational organizations National PTA, GLSEN, American School Counselor Association and National Association of School Psychologists in Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County, Florida. The case was first brought by 16 year-old Drew Adams, a transgender high-school student, in 2017 who was denied access to the boys’ restroom at his high school in Ponte Vedra, Florida.

The district judge decided in Adams’ favor last July, agreeing that the school district violated his constitutional rights and his rights under Title IX, barring discrimination “on the basis of sex.” Following District Court Judge Corrigan’s decision, the school district appealed in August 2018 to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, where Adams’ case is now pending.

The brief presents an important perspective on behalf of leading educational organizations which support the rights of transgender students, stating that the “required use of a separate restroom by transgender students is inhumane and is entirely based on unfounded fears. Such practices are, therefore, inconsistent with established principles requiring equality.” The brief argues that the discriminatory denial of equal access to restrooms routinely suffered by transgender students like Drew Adams causes them dire educational and life consequences, and that the purported bases for inflicting severe harms on Adams and other transgender students through restroom discrimination are entirely unfounded fears. The brief sets forth numerous examples from around the country where school districts have successfully implemented inclusive restroom policies that balance the privacy interests of all students while allowing transgender students access to the restroom or locker room of their gender identity.

National PTA is a nationwide network of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders serving 16.5 million students across the country. GLSEN is a non-profit education organization that works with schools to develop and promulgate LGBT-supportive school policies and practices.

Willkie previously filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Respondent Gavin Grimm, in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., a significant case concerning transgender students’ restroom access in March 2017. Willkie also filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in support of Appellees in Doe v. Boyertown in January 2018, an important precedent in which the court affirmed the school district’s right to implement inclusive policies that allow transgender students to access to the bathroom consistent with their gender identity.

The Willkie team who handled the matter includes partners Wesley Powell and Mary Eaton and associate Patricia Haynes. The brief can be viewed here.

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