The United States District Court for the District of Maryland ruled yesterday that transgender students’ right to use the restroom and locker rooms in alignment with their gender identity is protected by federal and state law. In M.A.B. v. Board of Education of Talbot County, Max Brennan (M.A.B.), a boy who is transgender, was forced by Talbot County Public Schools policy to use separate restrooms and locker rooms because he is transgender. The ruling is the first decision of its kind in the state of Maryland, but joins a long list of decisions confirming that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, the federal statute prohibiting sex discrimination in educational settings, and the Constitution prohibit public schools from excluding students who are transgender from using the same facilities as their non-transgender peers. It is also the first case to hold that transgender people are protected under the Maryland state constitution.
The lawsuit was originally filed by FreeState Justice, and the ACLU and ACLU of Maryland subsequently joined as co-counsel.
“I am extremely happy with the court’s decision, and think it is a great step in the right direction,” said Brennan. “I am hopeful that this case will not only help change policy for the better, but help the students who are bound to come after me.”
In his decision U.S. District Court Judge George L. Russell, III, explained, “M.A.B.’s claims come down to a boy asking his school to treat him just like any other boy. This Court finds that Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause provide M.A.B. grounds to do so.”
“We hope this decision is a wake-up call for the Talbot County School Board” said Jennifer Kent, managing attorney with FreeState Justice. “School systems in Maryland should know the law and should be protecting students who are transgender from discrimination, not singling them out for separate and unequal treatment.”
“Courts across the country have recognized that Title IX and the Constitution prohibit schools from singling out transgender students for different and discriminatory treatment,” said Josh Block, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. “We will continue to fight on behalf of Max and other transgender students to ensure that these stigmatizing and harmful policies are a thing of the past.”
The ruling can be found here.
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