(San Francisco, CA, March 3, 2017)— Yesterday, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a joint amicus brief supporting Gavin Grimm in his case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking to enforce the protections guaranteed by federal law to transgender students. The school board in Gloucester County, Virginia, where Gavin Grimm attended school, had enacted a policy excluding transgender students from using the same restrooms as their peers. Gavin’s case argues that this policy violates Title IX, a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.

The civil rights organizations’ amicus brief filed yesterday highlights the history of how state officials gave effect to racism through policies restricting access to bathrooms and other public shared spaces in ways that stigmatized and eroded the dignity of people of color. The official justifications for those policies relied on fears of sexual contact or contamination, or on disingenuous or paternalistic concern for protecting African-Americans from white people’s discomfort. The brief draws a connection between those justifications and the arguments offered by public officials at the school board to explain why discrimination against Gavin Grimm should be allowed, and underlines the danger of not learning from history by following this flawed line of reasoning.

Statement by NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter, Esq.:

“Having two of our nation’s most iconic civil rights organizations support Gavin sends a powerful message that this issue is important and that the civil rights community stands arm-in-arm with transgender students. No one can speak with more credibility about the harms imposed by forcing a vulnerable minority to use separate facilities than these groups. Especially at a time when people of color and immigrants are under attack, it is remarkable that these groups would take the time and resources to support transgender people. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”

A copy of the civil rights groups’ brief can be found here.