Attorney General Bonta Files Friend-of-the-Court Brief in Support of the Rights of Transgender Students

Monday, November 29, 2021
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 23 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of the rights of transgender students across the country in Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County. The case stems from a lawsuit against a school board in Florida over an unwritten policy barring transgender students from using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. In the friend-of-the-court brief before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the coalition highlights the harms of unlawful discrimination on the basis of an individual’s transgender status, highlights how states like California have been able to accommodate students’ desire for privacy without subjecting students to discrimination, and urges the appellate court to affirm the trial court’s decision.

“The law is clear: Discrimination based on gender identity is still discrimination,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Allowing students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity is a no-brainer. It affirms who they are and helps create a school environment where everyone can grow and thrive. Transgender teenagers shouldn’t have to be in court to prove they are entitled to respect. California proudly stands in support of Drew Adams and students like him across the country. We’ve got your back.”

The multistate coalition strongly supports the right of transgender people to live with dignity, be free from discrimination, and have equal access to education, government-sponsored opportunities, and other regular parts of life, including equal access to school restrooms. Nearly 1.5 million people in the United States — including approximately 150,000 teenagers — identify as transgender. Discriminatory bathroom policies can have a significant impact on the well-being and mental health of transgender Americans who already face pervasive discrimination. In the 2015 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 77% of respondents in grades K-12 who were known or perceived to be transgender reported experiencing harassment by students, teachers, or staff. The St. Johns County School Board’s unwritten restroom policy only serves to further stigmatize transgender students. Policies that prevent transgender people from using sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity are unnecessary and unlawful. In contrast to the St. Johns County School Board’s unwritten policy, all California schools have been required to permit students to use sex-segregated facilities consistent with the student’s gender identity since 2014.

In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts: 

  • The states’ experience confirms that protecting transgender people from discrimination yields broad benefits;
  • Nondiscriminatory restroom policies produce important benefits and do not require significant expenditures;
  • The states’ experience confirms that transgender-inclusive policies can accommodate privacy concerns;
  • Transgender youth face pervasive and harmful discrimination that causes them serious health and academic harms; and
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibit the gender-identity discrimination identified in the case.

In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Bonta joins the attorneys general of New York, Washington, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.

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