Attorney General Ellison fights to protect transgender students' rights
Joins coalition of 22 AGs in amicus brief to protect Indiana transgender student against discrimination
August 5, 2022
August 3, 2022 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today took legal action to protect transgender students’ rights, by joining a coalition of 22 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in federal court against the attempt of an Indiana school district to block a transgender boy from using the boys’ bathroom. The 13-year-old student, A.C., was forced to use a single-sex restroom located in the school's medical clinic rather than be allowed to use any of the boys’ restrooms throughout the school.
“Everyone deserves to live with dignity, safety, and respect. There can be no exceptions. As long as I am attorney general, I will use the power of my office to defend this principle and protect all people from discrimination,” Attorney General Ellison said. “Transgender people want what people of all genders want for themselves, their families, and their children: to live their lives in the way that’s best for them. No one is hurt by that, so it is shameful that some in Minnesota and America are exploiting fear and misunderstanding to hurt and bully transgender people and transgender youth and divide us from each other. I want transgender Minnesotans of all ages to know that I will always protect your rights to study, work, and live as you wish.”
In their brief, filed in the case of A.C. v. Metropolitan School District of Martinsville at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Attorney General Ellison and the coalition argue the court should affirm a lower court ruling that requires the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville, Indiana to allow A.C. to use the boys’ bathroom. They argue that preventing a transgender student from using a school restroom consistent with the student’s gender identity violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. They also argue that policies that maintain sex-segregated spaces while permitting transgender people to use a facility that aligns with their gender identity help to ease the stigma transgender people often experience, with positive effects on their educational and health outcomes. Overall, Attorney General Ellison and the coalition argue, protecting transgender people from discrimination yields broad benefits to society and harms no one.
Attorney General Ellison’s past success in protecting transgender Americans in court
Attorney General Ellison has succeeded in the past in protecting transgender Americans in court.
• In a similar case, in March 2019, Attorney General Ellison and 20 attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of a transgender student, Drew Evans, whose Florida school district denied him the right to use the school bathroom that fit his gender identity. A U.S. District Court had previously found in favor of Evans, writing, “[T]he evidence is that Drew Adams poses no threat to the privacy or safety of any of his fellow students. Rather, Drew Adams is just like every other student at Nease High School, a teenager coming of age in a complicated, uncertain, and changing world. When it comes to his use of the bathroom, the law requires that he be treated like any other boy.” In August 2020, the 11th Circuit agreed with Attorney General Ellison and the coalition and upheld the federal district court’s ruling that the school district had discriminated against Evans.
• In July 2019, Attorney General Ellison and 21 attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in three cases before the Court that involved workers who had been fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. One of those cases involved a transgender woman who was fired by the funeral home where she worked when she asked her employer for permission to dress in accordance with her gender identity. In their amicus brief, Attorney General Ellison and the coalition argued to the Supreme Court that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In a landmark June 2020 decision, the Supreme Court agreed with Attorney General Ellison and found that Title VII protects LGBTQ employees from discrimination.
More than 1.6 million people in the United States, including approximately 300,000 youth between the ages 13–17, identify as transgender. Despite transgender Americans’ significant contributions to their communities, too often they experience discrimination that limits their ability to realize their potential. Transgender youth experience levels of discrimination, violence, and harassment that exceed those experienced by their cisgender counterparts.
Joining Attorney General Ellison in filing the brief are New York Attorney General Tish James and Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who led the brief, and the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.