Law School Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies supports transgender high school studentAround the Nation, Online Only, Top Highlights Friday, October 30th, 2015
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Leading experts in transgender legal concerns, Professors Erin E. Buzuvis and Jennifer L. Levi of Western New England University School of Law Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies filed briefs in support of Virginia high school student Gavin Grimm who sued his school for excluding him from using the boys’ restroom facility at the high school he attends. The student is appealing to a federal appellate court after a lower court denied him preliminary relief against the Gloucester, Virginia school board.
Professor Buzuvis filed an amicus brief in this case, along with Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg of Columbia Law School, on behalf of ten women’s rights and Title IX organizations. The brief argues that discrimination against a student because he is transgender violates Title IX’s prohibitions against sex discrimination.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Virginia has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Grimm against the Gloucester County School Board for adopting a discriminatory bathroom policy that segregates transgender students from their peers. The policy effectively expels trans students from communal restrooms and requires them to use “alternative private” restroom facilities.
Wednesday, the Obama administration filed a brief in support of Grimm. Attorneys with the Department of Education’s Office of the General Council and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division filed the 40-page brief with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.
“A transgender boy is a boy and should be treated the same as any other boy. Singling him out for exclusion from educational opportunities is gender discrimination under Title IX, and a violation of his civil rights,” Buzuvis said. “This type of restriction, which is both discriminatory and inhumane, makes equal educational opportunity impossible for transgender students,” added Goldberg.
Professor Jennifer Levi submitted a brief in this case on behalf of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and the Pediatric Endocrine Society among many other prominent transgender health organizations. The brief details the social science research that highlights the role schools play in developing and supporting positive self-identities for all students. Singling out a transgender boy from the rest of the student population for exclusion from school facilities stigmatizes him and undermines his ability to learn.
“Transgender adolescents have the same need for support and affirmation as do their non-transgender peers,” explained Levi. “The research is clear and demonstrates the need for a transgender boy to be treated just like every other boy at the school.”
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