California AG Joins Brief in Support of Transgender Student Rights

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Oakland, CA – California Attorney General Rob Bonta this week joined a multi-state amicus brief in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the rights of transgender students in Doe v. Mukwonago Area School District.

The case originated in Wisconsin and stems from a lawsuit challenging a Wisconsin school board’s policy barring an 11-year-old transgender student from using the girls’ restroom based on her sex assigned at birth.

The AG’s office called the school policy “part of a dangerous wave of discriminatory policies that target transgender children.”

In the brief, the coalition explains that it believes the policy violates Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause, and describes serious harms that could result from “unlawful discrimination on the basis of an individual’s gender identity.”

“Policies that single out and discriminate against transgender and gender-nonconforming students have no place in the classroom,” said Attorney General Bonta.

“No student should ever have to resort to the courts to prove they are entitled to respect,” he explained. “As we continue to witness grown adults targeting the rights of vulnerable students and trying to undermine their rights and dignity, today’s coalition stands in support of our LGBTQ+ student community across the country.”

In the brief, the signers noted that “Amici States strongly support the right of transgender people to live with dignity, be free from discrimination, and have equal access to education, government-sponsored opportunities, and other incidents of life, including equal access to school restrooms.”

The signers believe, “Discrimination on the basis of one’s transgender status causes tangible economic, educational, emotional, and health harms.”

The amicus notes, “Over 1.6 million people in the United States, including approximately 300,000 youth between the ages of 13 and 17, identify as transgender.”

It continues, “Transgender youth experience levels of discrimination, violence, and harassment that far exceed those experienced by their cisgender counterparts.

“The experiences of amici States and other jurisdictions show that policies and practices that ensure equal access to public facilities for transgender people—including access to common restrooms consistent with their gender identity—promote safe and inclusive school environments that benefit all,” the amicus continues.

One survey cited by the brief notes that, of LGBTQ students, 62.6 percent reported being “teased, bullied, or treated badly” at school in the prior year, and more than half (55.6%) of such youth reported being victimized specifically due to their sexual identity, gender identity, or gender expression.

“Discrimination against transgender youth—including denial of access to appropriate restroom facilities—can have serious health consequences,” they argue.

On the other hand, “Policies that prevent transgender students from using sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity are unnecessary and unlawful.”

The amicus makes a threefold argument against the Mukwonago Area School District’s Policy.

First, they argue, “The School District’s policy violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by denying transgender boys and girls access to the same common restrooms that other boys and girls may use.”

Second, they argue that the policy fails to “advance any legitimate interest, such as protecting public safety or personal privacy” and thus “its only function is to stigmatize a particular group, which violates equal protection.”

Third, they argue that inclusive laws and policies can produce important benefits and do not require significant expenditures.

“The experiences of school administrators in dozens of States across the country confirm that such policies can be implemented fairly, simply, and effectively,” they argue.

They cite policies from the District of Columbia which require businesses to “provide access to and the safe use of facilities that are segregated by gender” where nudity in the presence of others is customary, while also making accommodations for transgender individuals to use the facility “that is consistent with that individual’s gender identity or expression.”

They argue that “it is discriminatory restroom policies rather than inclusive ones that raise privacy concerns.”

Moreover, they add, “Such policies are more likely to create a needless risk of violence against transgender people, whose physical appearance may diverge from their sex assigned at birth and who therefore are likely to be perceived as using the ‘wrong’ restroom.”

In short, they argue that “policies like the one at issue here, which bar transgender individuals from using a restroom that aligns with their gender identity, are more likely to pose safety and privacy concerns than inclusive policies.”

California, the brief notes, “adopted protections against gender-identity discrimination in schools to address harms suffered by transgender students, including students not drinking and eating during the school day to avoid restroom use.”

The California Attorney General noted, “In contrast to the Mukwonago Area School District’s policy, all California schools have been required since 2014 to permit students to use sex-segregated facilities consistent with the student’s gender identity.”

The AG added, “At the California Department of Justice, we remain committed to ensuring a safe and inclusive learning environment that benefits all.”

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Walter Shwe

    I join with our Attorney General in vehement opposition to Wisconsin’s highly bigoted and discriminatory right wing policy of denying students the basic human and civil rights they are fully entitled to. This brief straightforwardly lays out the reasons why this policy is unlawful and the real world consequences of it.

  2. Keith Olsen

    How about the basic human rights of girls who feel they have the right to not have to use a restroom with a transgender boy or girls? Do they not have rights too?  And don’t say that girls have nothing to worry about.  I can find several articles with examples like this”

    In Loudoun County, Virginia, a young “gender-fluid” man sexually assaulted his classmates in a girls’ bathroom. The school district ignored complaints from a concerned father about its transgender policies and made little effort to prosecute the perpetrator despite known past accusations made against him.
    Last fall, a transgender student in Oklahoma beat up his female peer in a women’s bathroom. This past April, another transgender student in California fought two of his female peers. A female student complained to the school board that he had a habit of showing his genitals in women’s locker rooms and bathrooms. Another transgender student flashed four freshman girls in their locker room after a swim class in Wisconsin.


        1. David Greenwald

          How about designate all of the restrooms as all gender with private stalls. Then you solve the concerns on both sides of the issue. That would be my solution.

        2. Keith Olsen

          You’re forgetting about the many girls who get accosted by transgender girls and are now afraid to use a restroom at school.  They have the right to use a restroom in safety.  Do you not agree?

          1. David Greenwald

            I don’t know how “many” we are talking about. But the private stall should solve that concern.

          1. David Greenwald

            For one thing, you don’t have to structure it that way. For another thing, what’s to stop that from happening in any event?

            The other day I went to a place, it had five all-gender restrooms. You open the door, have your private restroom, lock the door, do your thing. Leave.

          1. David Greenwald

            They had a sink in there as well.

            At the Starbucks across from the Capital they have the all-gender restrooms and then a common sink area separate and open.

        3. Keith Olsen

          Alright, a private sink in every stall or a public sink outside of the restroom in the open.   How much will that cost to reconstruct every school restroom in America?

  3. Kendra Smith

    “You’re forgetting about the many girls who get accosted by transgender girls and are now afraid to use a restroom at school.”

    Until the right wing coughs up some actual numbers on this, I laugh at the idea that there are “many” such girls accosted by transgender girls.

    This just contributes to the disgusting hysteria that puts transgender humans in danger right now.

  4. Keith Olsen

    I typed into Google Search “girls getting raped and accosted in school restrooms by transgenders”.

    There are over 2,200,000 search results.

    Kind of says it all.

    1. Walter Shwe

      Here is an actual murder, not a virtually meaningless number of search hits.

      South Carolina Man Pleads Guilty for Role in Murder of Black Transgender Woman

      A man pleaded guilty to obstruction charges in a federal court on Thursday for his role in the 2019 murder of a Black transgender woman.

      Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, 24, was found shot to death in her car in Allendale, South Carolina, on August 4, 2019. She was the second trans woman murdered in the state within a month at the time. Earlier this year, two men were arrested and indicted for Doe’s murder.,%2C%20on%20August%204%2C%202019.

    2. Walter Shwe

      School is a ‘nightmare’ for trans and nonbinary kids. Here’s why.
      In a sweeping Washington Post-KFF poll, 45% of trans adults said school made them feel unsafe
      Cries of “Here comes the ‘it’!” in school hallways. Teachers who refuse to use transgender students’ names and pronouns. Long, isolating walks to faraway gender-neutral bathrooms — or just holding it all day.

  5. Keith Olsen

    From the article I referenced above:

    If schools are forcing students to comply with pro-transgender policies, and this has caused increasing social pressure from peers, how many more children have been victims of assault but are afraid to speak out?

    Simply using their assigned rest rooms has caused untold trauma to many young girls who are afraid to speak out do to social and peer pressure.  This is a huge problem that needs to be remedied.

        1. Walter Shwe

          The Post-KFF poll is the largest nongovernmental survey of U.S. transgender adults ever conducted using random sampling methods. Between Nov. 10 and Dec. 1 of last year, 515 people who identify as trans answered questions about their experiences growing up and their lives post-transition. More than 800 cisgender adults were also part of the survey.

          If Mason McElravy closes his eyes, he can see each step of the route he took to the bathroom in high school.

          The path traversed his large Florida campus, requiring him to walk by dozens of classrooms and single-sex restrooms, and finished inside the health clinic, home to Plant City High’s only gender-neutral bathroom. The nurses agreed to let him use it, McElravy said, after classmates and staffers repeatedly questioned and opposed his attempts to use the men’s room.

          “It just sucked to have to walk that entire way and past everyone in the clinic,” said McElravy, now 22. “I wasn’t sick, I was just using the bathroom. It was ostracizing. It made me stick out.”

          “The teachers were worse than the students,” Scott said.

          Three decades later, not much has changed, McElravy said. Dressing and presenting as male did not stop teachers from naming him a woman. Administrators who knew the answer stopped him outside the bathroom to ask, “Why are you going in the men’s room?” A guidance counselor told him she completely understood what he wanted, before asserting: “So it’s just whatever pronouns people want to call you. I get it!”

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