Americans Overwhelmingly Support Gavin Grimm and Transgender Students Across the Country
On March 2, 2017, citizens from across the country — representing a diverse and extraordinary cross-section of interests, perspectives, and concerns — filed friend-of-court/AMICUS briefs in support of Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old transgender high school student from Virginia whose case against his school board over their refusal to allow him access to the boy’s restroom at school will be heard by the Supreme Court on March 28.
The filing of friend-of-court briefs illustrated the extraordinary support for Gavin, and the support for the rights of transgender students, from voices in every corner of the country, including:
- Businesses: Many of the nation’s most prominent business leaders (including Apple, Twitter, Amazon, Airbnb, eBay, Microsoft, PayPal, Salesforce, Lyft, Tumblr, Yahoo, Gap, Warby Parker, among many others).
- Educators: More than 1 million teachers (in a brief filed by the National Education Association; the American Federation of Teachers; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; Service Employees International Union; and the School Social Work Association of America).
- Medical community: Major medical associations representing the scientific and medical consensus (including American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, Endocrine Society, among others).
- Faith leaders: More than 1,800 faith leaders of all denominations, faiths and backgrounds.
- Law enforcement: More than 60 law enforcement officials from across the country.
- Civil rights: Major civil rights organizations (including NAACP LDF, National Women’s Law Center, AALDEF, Impact Fund, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders).
- Lawmakers: Nearly 200 federal lawmakers (led by U.S. Sens. Al Franken, Tammy Baldwin, and Rep. Jared Polis, and including 40 senators and 156 representatives)
- Americans everywhere: A number of other groups and individuals across the country representing voices everywhere including Members of Congress, educators, students, trans individuals, parents, lawyers, artists, scientists, and veterans.
The many briefs filed on Gavin’s behalf can be found on the ACLU’s website here.
Below is a sampling of quotes from individuals who have rallied in support of Gavin, as well as excerpts from some of the briefs filed by many organizations and groups on his behalf.
Belinda Johnson, Chief Business Affairs and Legal Officer for Airbnb:
“Our mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere and we’ve long supported the fight for equality and civil rights for the LGBTQ community. We are proud to add our voice to this important effort.”
Tommy Chang, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools:
“One of the most important missions we have as a district is to create safe and welcoming learning environments where all students, including transgender and gender-nonconforming students, are respected and can flourish. Although the federal government recently rescinded its guidance protecting transgender students in our nation’s schools, transgender and gender nonconforming students in the Boston Public Schools (BPS) will remain protected from discrimination, bullying and harassment. The Boston Public Schools will continue to maintain our practice and culture of respect for all students and employees, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ). [We will continue] to ensure that every Boston Public School is a safe and welcoming place for all of us.”
Jen Richards, actress and co-writer and producer of the Emmy-nominated series ‘Her Story’:
“Bathroom restrictions are proxy battles for who is considered fully human. If you can’t use a public facility safely, how can you be an active member of the community? How can you be a citizen if the message of your own government is that you don’t belong? And what are you without community or citizenship? With my family in Greensboro, North Carolina, when it comes to guns, government, immigration, crime or media, there are many strong feelings, but very little agreement. There is no debate, however, about my womanhood, either at home or in church. The pastor didn’t know any transgender people before me, but he accepts that I’m a member of the congregation and a beloved child of God.”
Rev. David W. Key, Founding Pastor of Lake Oconee Community Church in Greensboro, Georgia:
“All students should feel safe in school, including transgender individuals. At the heart of all faith traditions is the support for human dignity. As a Baptist minister, I urge all good people of faith to rally for this cause. Gavin Grim deserves our unwavering support.”
Brandon Adams, a 15-year-old transgender teenager from Framingham, Massachusetts:
“When I came out as a transgender boy at my school, I was singled out and asked to use a separate restroom simply because I am transgender. When I complied with the school’s request and used a gender-neutral restroom, other students would physically harass and bully me. Because of their hatred and fear, I often avoided the restroom at school, causing me to drink less water, get headaches, and feel dehydrated. I asked to use the boys’ restroom because that’s where I felt safe, because that’s who I am — a boy. Schools should support students in any way they can, and make all kids feel safe, so we can focus on our education and on being kids. I hope the Supreme Court listens to our stories and stands up for equal treatment for kids like me and Gavin.”
Jonathan Eber, father of transgender teenager Brandon Adams in Framingham, Massachusetts:
“When Brandon came out as transgender at his school, administrators were mostly supportive, but they simply seemed at a loss for what to do, especially because they were untrained and uneducated about what it means to be transgender. The solution was simple: Brandon is a boy, and he belongs with other boys, not treated differently because of who he is. Brandon has been thriving at school ever since his school updated their policies to be fully inclusive and supportive of transgender students. Kids should be thinking about their first date, about getting their driver’s license, about applying to college — not living in fear. Being transgender is only one part of who Brandon is and there is so much more to his story. We hope the Supreme Court affirms fairness for all of our children so that no one has to face discrimination when they should be focused on their education.”
Teachers Unions Brief (including National Education Association; the American Federation of Teachers; the National Association of Secondary School Principals; the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; Service Employees International Union; and the School Social Work Association of America):
“Educators are, above all, advocates and protectors of their students. Compelling them to discriminate against and harm their students runs counter to everything about their personal and professional mission.”
Dennis Herrera, San Francisco City Attorney:
“This is not a case about bathrooms — it is a case about fundamental civil rights. Separate but equal is not equal. We know that from our history, and we know that from our hearts. Stigmatizing an already vulnerable group is not an American value. Equality, compassion and being true to yourself — those are qualities we all embrace. For decades San Francisco has recognized the importance of adopting laws and policies that protect transgender individuals from discrimination so that they may live with the dignity and respect that everyone is entitled to. The policy passed by Gloucester County is based on unfounded fears and discriminates against transgender students. It denies them the equal access to education that Title IX guarantees. Passing laws in our cities that guarantee the protection of transgender people has only enhanced public safety and led to communities that are more inclusive. Wrapping discrimination in a cloak of unfounded fear doesn’t protect anyone. It weakens us all.”
Kasey Suffredini, Transgender Attorney, Freedom For All Americans:
“I was terrified to reveal that I am transgender to my brother. We lost our parents over 15 years ago, and he is my only remaining immediate family. I was worried he would feel he didn’t know me, creating distance in our relationship, or at worst, reject me. I am very close to his children — my niece and nephew — and I didn’t want to lose my relationships with them either. I will never forget his words to me when I told him that after ten years of consideration I had decided to live as the man I have always known myself to be. He said, “Kasey, I don’t care what pronouns you use and what name you want to be called. I love you and will always support you. What I care about is how I can just be hearing this now if you’ve been struggling with it for ten years. I thought we were close.” This moment changed my life because, in that moment, I knew I was on the right path and everything was going to be all right.”
Lily Eskelsen García, President, National Education Association:
“Every student matters, and every student has the right to be safe, welcomed, and valued in our public schools. We have a moral, legal, and professional duty to support all students, including our transgender students. That’s why today we urge the Supreme Court to protect the rights of transgender students and take a bold stand against discrimination in whichever form it takes.
“Educators know firsthand that school-based discrimination against transgender students harms them profoundly by stigmatizing them and denying them equitable educational opportunities. This discrimination is based on unjustifiable fear and hate of transgender students — fear and hate that in turn leads to harassment, abuse, and even violence directed at transgender students.There is no justification for this.
“We ask the Court to send a clear and unequivocal message that students like Gavin have the right to equal treatment in school.
“When transgender students are respected at school, they are able to engage fully with the educational experience, and when that happens, transgender students, like all students, are able to thrive. Safe and supportive schools, as educators know, are good for all students.
“Absent a clear decision in Gavin’s favor, many educators will be compelled to enforce discriminatory policies. These policies not only harm our students but harm educators too. Compelling us to discriminate against our students runs counter to everything we stand for as people and professionals.”
Terri Poore, Policy Director of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence:
“Prohibiting a transgender boy like Gavin from using the boys’ restroom at school does nothing to increase student safety. As an organization dedicated to preventing sexual assault and supporting survivors, we support laws and policies that will help us with these goals including protecting transgender people from discrimination and supporting them accessing facilities that match the gender they live everyday. We believe in treating all people, including those who are transgender, with fairness and respect.”
The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church:
“The book of Genesis declares that every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. This divine decree proclaims the inherent sacredness, dignity, worth, and equality of every human person. The way of love for God and our neighbor that Jesus taught is the way to honor the sacredness, dignity, worth and equality of each person. For this reason we work for the equality and dignity of transgender people, who, like the rest of us, are created in God’s image and likeness.”
Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President, House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church:
“Jesus tells us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, and he tells us not to be afraid. The Episcopal Church affirms the victory of love over fear by supporting local, state and federal laws that prevent discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. We oppose all legislation that seeks to deny the God-given dignity, legal equality, and civil rights of transgender people. We support transgender equality not in spite of our Christian faith, but because of it.”
Rabbi Denise L. Eger, D.D., President,Central Conference of American Rabbis:
“The Gavin Grimm case speaks to the heart of humanity. As a rabbi I know Judaism affirms treating everyone as created in God’s image. Gavin’s simple human request for dignity at school shouldn’t be a matter of debate. Transgender people are the ones most at risk in bathrooms that don’t match their presenting gender. Not the other way around. Let’s not confuse the issue.”
Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, Ohio (UCC):
“The United Church of Christ remains fully committed to maintaining the rights for and dignity of the transgender community. Laws that deprive them of the full array of rights and opportunities needed to live as they choose will be resisted by us at every turn. We have long engaged in the struggle for all to define their gender identity, and not to have to conform to options that others restrict them to. We find it particularly disturbing that government agencies, sworn to uphold the constitution and to protect and preserve the rights of all its citizens, would use the collective ignorance and religious intolerance of fundamentalist religionists to reshape law and deprive citizens of their full rights. The United Church of Christ is open to all expressions of humanity in the fullness of its rich diversity. As the current administration seeks to discover regressive legislative and judicial support for its gender bias and restrictive mentality, the United Church of Christ joins with others committed to justice for all. We strongly support this effort to achieve legal redress for the wrongs inflicted on the transgender population, and call upon the courts of this land to uphold the rights of our citizens to pursue their happiness unimpeded by religious bigotry and intolerance.”
Rev. Daniel Kanter:
“As a clergy person and a supporter of all people I know it is my responsibility to meet every person where they are. The transgender members of my church know they are whole when we acknowledge that deep down they know who they are and we trust and love them for it. All people of faith must learn enough about transgender people to understand this is an issue of how God makes us in all types and we are compelled to love each and every creation with the same intention.”