National Center for Lesbian Rights

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Cases & Advocacy

D.H. v. Snyder

D.H. and John Doe are transgender teenagers who require male chest reconstruction surgery to treat their gender dysphoria. Arizona is refusing to cover this medically necessary treatment because of a categorical exclusion on covering surgical treatments for gender dysphoria in the state’s Medicaid regulations.

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Cases & Advocacy

Prescott v. Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego

On September 26, 2016, the mother of a transgender teenaged boy who was admitted into Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego (RCHSD) for inpatient care filed a lawsuit against the hospital for discrimination against her son, Kyler. One day into his 72-hour stay, and after several failed attempts by his mother to correct the discrimination by the hospital, the hospital’s psychiatrist determined that despite his serious mental health issues, Kyler should be discharged early. About five weeks later, Kyler died by suicide.

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Cases & Advocacy

Equality Arizona v. Hoffman

A federal lawsuit that led to the repeal of Arizona’s anti-LGBTQ curriculum law, which barred public school students from receiving medically accurate, age-appropriate information about non-heterosexual people in their health education classes.

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Legislation & Policy

State Policy Working Group

NCLR, along with other national LGBTQ organizations, is part of a State Policy Working Group that addresses proposed state legislation affecting LGBTQ people across the country. The group works to support local advocates in advancing bills to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, healthcare, and other areas, and to allow transgender and nonbinary people to obtain gender marker changes on identity documents.

The group also works to stop the dozens of hostile anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures every year. Among the proposed laws that have been successfully defeated are bills that would permit discrimination against same-sex couples who marry, create broad religious exemptions to existing civil rights protections, allow religiously-affiliated child welfare agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples, prohibit transgender people from using restrooms and other facilities based on their gender identity, and deprive transgender youth of access to gender-affirming medical care and participation in school sports based on their gender identity.

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Legislation & Policy

National LGBTQ/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group

NCLR is a member of the National LGBTQ/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group, which is a network of nearly 50 organizations and individual stakeholders working to reduce the unique harms of the U.S. criminal legal system experienced by LGBTQ+ people, people living with HIV, or those at risk of acquiring HIV, through research, education, and policy advocacy.

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Legislation & Policy

Equality Act

The Equality Act would prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity in the context of employment, housing, credit, education, public accommodations, and jury service. It also amends Title VI to include discrimination prohibitions based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in programs receiving federal financial assistance. NCLR partnered with Black and Pink and others to educate Congress and the public on the Act’s potential to reform the U.S. criminal legal system for LGBTQ people and people of color.

The House passed the Equality Act in May 2019, but the Senate has not taken action on the bill.

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Legislation & Policy

The Whole Youth Model

NCLR partners with Ceres Policy Research on the “Whole Youth Model,” an approach to serving youth in the justice system that prioritizes health and well-being over punishment and surveillance. Project staff provide training and technical assistance to participating jurisdictions, emphasizing the importance of collecting and analyzing data on the sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and race/ethnicity of each youth, among other aspects of their identity. The model is based on the premise that public safety is furthered by authentic conversations with young people and individualized responses tailored to their unique strengths and needs.

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Legislation & Policy

Supporting the Well-Being of Systems Involved LGBTQ Youth Certificate Program

NCLR and Ceres Policy Research partner with the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University to present an annual certificate program, “Supporting the Well-Being of Systems Involved LGBTQ Youth.” Multidisciplinary teams from jurisdictions across the country participate in a week-long intensive program designed to provide participants with the knowledge and skills to implement a Capstone Project in their communities to improve outcomes for LGBTQ youth.

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Legislation & Policy

The Equity Project

NCLR and the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) are founding members of the Equity Project, a national initiative to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of LGBTQ youth in the justice system. In 2009, the project published its seminal report entitled “Hidden Injustice,” documenting widespread discrimination against LGBTQ youth by law enforcement, probation, courts and institutional staff. Through training, technical assistance and development of agency policies and professional standards, the Equity Project has increased professional awareness and competence and improved the outcomes of countless LGBTQ youth involved in the justice system.

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Legislation & Policy

getREAL National

NCLR is a partner in the getREAL (Recognize. Engage. Affirm. Love.) project, a national initiative sponsored by the Center for the Study of Social Policy. The getREAL collaborative works to transform child welfare policy nationally to promote the healthy development of LGBTQ and gender expansive youth through working intensively with sites, supporting a national professional network and developing research-based knowledge in the child welfare field.

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Legislation & Policy

getREAL California

NCLR is a partner in getREAL (Recognize. Engage. Affirm. Love) California, a collaboration with the Center on the Study of Social Policy, Family Builders by Adoption, and the RISE Initiative of the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center. The focus of the work is to integrate sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE) into the state’s Continuum of Care Reform and the state law requiring child welfare agencies to collect SOGIE data.

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Legislation & Policy

Support OUT

NCLR is working with the Office of LGBTQ Affairs in Santa Clara County, California to implement “Support OUT,” a multi-year initiative designed to promote the health and well-being of the LGBTQ youth living in the county. This public health initiative seeks to address the risk factors that jeopardize LGBTQ youth – especially low-income LGBTQ youth of color – and contribute to their overrepresentation among homeless youth and in child welfare and juvenile justice systems. The vision of the initiative is that all LGBTQ and gender nonconforming children and youth in the county thrive in their homes, schools, and communities, and successfully transition to adulthood.

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Legislation & Policy

Transforming Justice (Michigan Juvenile Justice Reform)

NCLR partnered with the Ruth Ellis Center and the Michigan Center for Youth Justice to create a justice system in Wayne County, Michigan that prevents the criminalization of LGBTQ youth, addresses their unique needs in community-based settings and prevents harms associated with detention and incarceration.

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Legislation & Policy

California Assembly Bill 2119

NCLR co-sponsored AB 2119, a bill to give California foster youth the right to access gender affirming health and behavioral health care. The legislation, which amended the Foster Care Bill of Rights, was the first of its kind in the nation and ensures that transgender youth receive health care consistent with national standards of care. Governor Brown signed the bill in September 2018, and the California Department of Social Services issued guidance in May 2019.

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Legislation & Policy

Title 15 regulations

NCLR served on a workgroup to revise the Title 15 regulations, which govern county-run youth detention facilities, ranches and camps in California. Convened by the Board of State and Community Corrections, the process included input from probation officials, youth advocates and community-based organizations serving currently and formerly incarcerated youth. This inclusive process resulted in several new protections for youth, including LGBTQ youth. NCLR worked with other advocates to create a resource that clearly spelled out new rights for youth in custody.

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Legislation & Policy

TGNC Youth in Confinement Facilities

NCLR received support from the National Prison Rape Elimination Act Resource Center (PRC) to develop a model policy for confinement facilities housing transgender, gender nonconforming and intersex youth. NCLR and the Center for Children’s Law and Policy worked with a diverse group of youth justice stakeholders, including advocates for TGNCI communities, formerly incarcerated young people, facility personnel, and youth justice practitioners from across the country. Together, we produced the model policy which was published by the PRC. Based on the policy, NCLR and the National Juvenile Defender Center created a checklist for juvenile defenders to help juvenile defenders advocate for the safety and well-being of TGNCI youth in secure and non-secure facilities.

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Cases & Advocacy

Gender and Sexuality Alliance v. Spearman

NCLR and co-counsel filed a federal lawsuit challenging a South Carolina statute that prohibits public school health education from including any discussion of same-sex relationships except in the context of sexually transmitted diseases. The district court entered a consent decree and judgment declaring the challenged provision unconstitutional and barring its enforcement in South Carolina.

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Cases & Advocacy

Meriwether v. Shawnee State University

Jane Doe filed a Title IX complaint with Shawnee State University after Professor Meriwether refused to use female honorifics and pronouns when referring to Jane in class. When the university placed a discipline letter in his personnel file, Meriwether sued the university claiming that the disciplinary action infringed on his First Amendment right to free speech and free exercise of religion, among other violations of federal and state law.

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Cases & Advocacy

Vlaming v. West Point School Board

John Doe is a transgender student at West Point High School. Despite repeated requests, John’s French teacher, Peter Vlaming, refused to use male pronouns when referring to John. Vlaming was fired in December 2018 and subsequently sued the West Point School Board for allegedly violating his constitutional right to free speech and free excerise of religion, among other claims.

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Cases & Advocacy

G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board Amicus

Gavin Grimm transitioned in his sophomore year of high school and started using the boys’ restroom. Despite using the restroom for nearly two months without incident, the Gloucester County School Board adopted a policy prohibiting him and other transgender students from using the facilities that match their gender identity. Gavin sued his school district for violating federal law.

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Cases & Advocacy

Calgaro v. St. Louis County

E.J.K. is Ms. Calgaro’s transgender daughter. E.J.K. was forced to leave home at fifteen-years old because she was being physically and emotionally mistreated by her mother and step-father. While living on her own, E.J.K. sought mental health, and eventually medical, treatment for her gender dysphoria. Ms. Calgaro claimed that each of the defendants interfered with her constitutional right to parent E.J.K.

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Cases & Advocacy

In re Doe

Jane Doe is the mother of three children in a rural community in the Midwest. From a young age, Jane’s middle child expressed that they may be transgender. Jane started using a new name for her child and bought the child clothes that were more consistent with the child’s gender identity. The local child-protective services agency, however, believed that Jane’s conduct constituted abuse and neglect and removed the children from Jane’s home.

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Cases & Advocacy

Highland Local School District v. U.S. Dept. of Educ.

Jane Doe is an 11-year-old transgender girl in the Highland Local Schools. For the past three years, the District has refused to treat her as female for all purposes, causing her to be ostracized and leading to frequent bullying and humiliation by teachers, staff, and students. Following an investigation, the U.S. Department of Education recently concluded that the District is violating Title IX.

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Cases & Advocacy

Paul E. v. Courtney F.

Paul E. and Courtney F. disagreed about the appropriate response to their child’s gender dysphoria. After a week-long trial, the judge issued an opinion awarding primary custody to the father, but also ordering that the child’s then-current therapist continue treating the child. The court also appointed an expert in the mental health of transgender children to advise the parties and the court about ongoing treatment. The father appealed, claiming that the trial judge did not have the authority to make those decisions.

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Cases & Advocacy

Parents for Privacy v. Barr Amicus

On November 11, 2017, a group of parents challenged their local school district’s policy of permitting transgender students to use the facilities consistent with the student’s gender identity. The school district moved to dismiss the complaint. On July 24, 2018, the District Court dismissed the parents’ claims, finding that the district’s transgender-inclusive policies do not violate the rights of non-transgender students. The parents appealed.

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Cases & Advocacy

Whitaker v. Kirby

NCLR and Joshua Langdon represented three transgender youth and their families in a lawsuit against Warren County Judge Joseph Kirby. The complaint alleged that Judge Kirby violated the United States Constitution by denying name changes to transgender youth based on his biases about transgender people. The Ohio Court of Appeals reversed Judge Kirby’s denial and ordered that he grant the name change.

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Cases & Advocacy

Fulton v. City of Philadelphia Amicus

Catholic Social Services (CSS), a foster care agency, brought the lawsuit claiming a constitutional right to discriminate against same-sex potential foster parents in violation of the agency’s contract with the City of Philadelphia and the City’s anti-discrimination ordinance. The district court denied CSS’s motion for a preliminary injunction, and CSS appealed.

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Cases & Advocacy

Texas v. United States Amicus

In May 2016, Texas, joined by Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin, filed a federal lawsuit challenging guidance issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice recognizing that schools must be safe, respectful and nurturing environments for all students, including those who are transgender.

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Cases & Advocacy

Equality Utah v. Utah State Board of Education

On October 21, 2016, Equality Utah and three students, represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the law firm of Ropes & Gray LLP, filed a federal lawsuit challenging state laws that ban positive speech about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Utah public schools.

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Legislation & Policy

California Senate Bill 731

On October 11, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a landmark bill that protects transgender children in the foster care system.

Authored by Senator Mark Leno, Senate Bill 731 gives critical guidance to child welfare workers regarding the placement of transgender youth in out-of-home care. The bill, co-authored by Senator Jim Beall, amends the Foster Care Bill of Rights to specify that foster youth have the right to be placed according to their gender identity, regardless of the sex listed in their court or child welfare records. SB 731, which went into effect on January 1, 2016, also requires the California Department of Social Services to issue regulations implementing this provision. By providing specific guidance to the child welfare field, the bill promotes the safety, permanency and well-being of transgender foster youth.

Many transgender youth face rejection, harassment, and abuse from their families, communities, and schools due to bias and stigma related to their gender identity or expression. These children are at extremely high risk for poor health and mental health outcomes. These risks are magnified for children in foster care, most of whom have experienced significant trauma. Placement of transgender youth consistent with their gender identity is necessary to protect them from further rejection, harassment, and abuse.

SB 731 was co-sponsored by NCLR, Equality California, and the Transgender Law Center, and supported by the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, the County Welfare Directors Association of California, Family Builders, the Gender Health Center, the Juvenile Court Judges of California, the Youth Law Center, the National Center for Youth Law, Legal Services for Children, the East Bay Children’s Law Offices, and Gender Spectrum.

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Cases & Advocacy

B.H., a transgender boy

When B.H. was in second grade, his peers began bullying and ostracizing him because he’s transgender. Worse, some parents organized a campaign to force the school district to stop treating B.H. as male, and to prohibit him from using the boys’ restroom. It didn’t take long before B.H. began showing significant psychological distress and his mom asked NCLR for help. NCLR worked with the school district to safeguard B.H.’s right to learn in a safe and welcoming environment.

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Legislation & Policy

School Success and Opportunity Act

The School Success and Opportunity Act‚ Assembly Bill 1266 (2013), authored by California Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, ensured that transgender students are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. The law requires that school districts provide transgender students with access to restrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-separated activities based on their gender identity. By specifically spelling out those protections, transgender students throughout California can reach their full potential and focus on learning.

All students should have a fair chance to fully participate and succeed in school so that they can graduate with their classmates. Being singled out and treated differently than their peers is detrimental to a transgender student’s psychological, social, and academic well-being and development.

The law went into effect on January 1, 2014.

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Legislation & Policy

The Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Safe Schools Improvement Act

In response to a number of tragic recent instances of anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment against young people, too many of which resulted the growing rates of absenteeism, dropout, adverse health consequences, and academic underachievement among LGBTQ youth, as well as the lack of adequate federal statutory protections, NCLR has joined many of our colleagues and The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) would expressly prohibit discriminatory treatment towards students on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools. Specifically, SNDA would prohibit express harassment against a student based on his or her actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as discriminatory actions that would exclude that student from participation in his or her academic learning. Similarly, SNDA would provide protection for students who brought claims under SNDA and prohibit any retaliatory actions by the school and its employees as a result of those claims.

Congress proposed the Student Non-Discrimination Act to ensure that all students in elementary and secondary schools across the country have equal access to public education, and equal educational opportunities, in an environment free from discrimination, including harassment, bullying, intimidation, and violence. Under the Student Non-Discrimination Act, students would have a meaningful legal recourse and effective remedial option in a manner that is similar to other civil rights claims made under the 14th Amendment and the general welfare provision of Article 1, section 8.

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Cases & Advocacy

Student v. Arcadia Unified School District

NCLR represents a transgender middle school student who transitioned from female to male. Although he lived as male and obtained a court-ordered name change, the school district still required that he use the nurse’s office for restroom access and to change in and out of his gym clothes. During an overnight field trip, the student was required to sleep in a separate cabin. In 2011, NCLR filed a complaint on the student’s behalf alleging that the school district’s treatment of the student constituted sex discrimination in violation of Title IX.

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Cases & Advocacy

Davis v. Fleming High School

NCLR represented Kelli Davis, a senior at Fleming High School, who was denied the right to appear in her senior yearbook because she wore a tuxedo rather than stereotypically feminine clothing.

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Cases & Advocacy

Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

Like many public schools, the University of California – Hastings College of the Law allowed law students to organize student groups that could apply for university funding and other resources for group-related events. In 2004, the Christian Legal Society (CLS) filed a lawsuit against Hastings, arguing that the nondiscrimination policy violated the group’s First Amendment right to discriminate against LGBTQ and non-Christian students.

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Cases & Advocacy

Mariah L. v. Administration for Children’s Services Amicus

Mariah L. sought coverage for transition-related healthcare as a 20-year-old transgender woman in foster care in New York City. Mariah’s doctors have all agreed that sex reassignment surgery is medically necessary for her. In New York, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) has a duty to provide and pay for all necessary medical care and treatment for children placed in foster care, but ACS has refused to provide Mariah with the medical care that she needs.

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Cases & Advocacy

D.A. v. J.W.

Seventeen-year-old J.W. and 18-year-old D.A. had been dating for almost six months when J.W.’s mother, Ms. W., learned about their relationship. Because she disapproved of her daughter dating another woman, in December 2007, Ms. W. petitioned a Florida court to get a restraining order to prohibit any contact between the two.

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Cases & Advocacy

Ramirez v. Los Angeles Unified School District

In 2004, NCLR and the ACLU of Southern California filed suit against the Los Angeles Unified School District and Washington Preparatory High School for discriminating against students based on their sexual orientation. The students alleged that administrators, teachers, and staff repeatedly called students derogatory anti-gay names and made anti-gay comments, threatened to out students to their families, and failed to protect students from anti-gay assaults.

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Cases & Advocacy

Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board

In 2005, a member of the Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board issued a written memo stating that that the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) “endorse unhealthy sexual practices among youth, including sex between underage youth and adults.” NCLR issued a demand letter insisting that the statements be retracted.

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Supreme Court Rules on Title VII! Give now & Celebrate!