Attorney General Ford Joins Coalition Fighting Discrimination Against Transgender Students in Schools

November 29, 2021

Coalition Files Amicus Brief Challenging Florida School District Policy Prohibiting Transgender Students from Using Bathrooms Corresponding with Gender Identity

Carson City, NV – Today, Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a multistate coalition of 23 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the case of Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County in support of Drew Adams, a transgender male who was prohibited from using the boys’ bathroom at a school he attended in St. Johns County, Florida.

“Transgender Americans must not be discriminated against, and denying transgender students access to the correct bathroom is blatantly discriminatory, disrespectful and harmful,” said AG Ford. “Intolerance has no place anywhere, especially in schools, where students must be treated with dignity and respect. Non-cisgender students must feel supported and included, and policies such as the one that affected Mr. Adams run directly counter to those principles.” 

Adams argues that the school’s policy of prohibiting him from using the boys’ bathroom violated his constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, as well as his rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. The brief supports Adams in these assertions.

Adams was prohibited from using the boys’ bathroom at Nease High School in Ponte Vede, Florida while he was a student, despite being treated as a boy in every other way at the school. The coalition argues that the only function of the school’s exclusionary policy is to stigmatize a particular group, thereby violating Title IX.

Exclusionary policies such as denying the right to the correct bathroom can affect the well-being of transgender students, who already face widespread discrimination. In the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS), 77% of respondents who were known or perceived as transgender in grades K-12 reported negative experiences at school, including being harassed or attacked.These attacks ranged from verbal harassment to physical attacks to sexual assault.

In the brief, the attorneys general argue that discrimination on the basis of gender identity causes economic, educational, emotional and health harms. The coalition argues that the experiences of states involved show that policies that are inclusionary of transgender people lead to significant individual and societal benefits without jeopardizing student safety or privacy.

Joining AG Ford in filing today’s brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and the District of Columbia.

The brief is attached