Attorney General Bonta Joins Brief in Support of Transgender Students’ Rights

Friday, October 27, 2023
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OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a multistate amicus brief in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the rights of transgender students in Doe v. Mukwonago Area School District. The case stems from a lawsuit challenging a Wisconsin school board’s policy barring an 11-year-old transgender student from using the girls’ restroom based on her sex assigned at birth. This school policy is part of a dangerous wave of discriminatory policies that target transgender children. In today’s brief, the coalition explains that the policy violates Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause, and describes the serious harms that result from unlawful discrimination on the basis of an individual’s gender identity. 

“Policies that single out and discriminate against transgender and gender-nonconforming students have no place in the classroom,” said Attorney General Bonta. “No student should ever have to resort to the courts to prove they are entitled to respect. As we continue to witness grown adults targeting the rights of vulnerable students and trying to undermine their rights and dignity, today’s coalition stands in support of our LGBTQ+ student community across the country. At the California Department of Justice, we remain committed to ensuring a safe and inclusive learning environment that benefits all.”

Over 1.6 million people in the United States, including approximately 300,000 youth between the ages of 13 and 17, identify as transgender. Transgender youth suffer levels of discrimination, violence, and harassment that far exceed those experienced by their cisgender counterparts. That kind of discrimination predictably inflicts physical and mental harms. Policies that prevent transgender students from using sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity are unnecessary and unlawful. In contrast to the Mukwonago Area School District’s policy, all California schools have been required since 2014 to permit students to use sex-segregated facilities consistent with the student’s gender identity.

In the amicus brief, the coalition supports the plaintiff’s lawsuit challenging the school district’s policy, arguing that the anti-transgender policy: 

  • Violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by denying transgender boys and girls access to the same common restrooms that other boys and girls may use.
  • Violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by stigmatizing a particular group and treating them less favorably based on their gender identity.
  • Fails to recognize how inclusive laws and policies — such as those in California — produce important benefits and do not require significant expenditures.

Attorney General Bonta is committed to defending the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ youth:

  • Just this month, Attorney General Bonta issued a statement following the San Bernardino Superior Court’s oral ruling from the bench halting enforcement of Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education’s (Board) mandatory gender identity disclosure policy. The ruling credited the Attorney General's view that such disclosure policies are detrimental to the safety and well-being of transgender and gender-nonconforming students. Attorney General Bonta had previously issued guidance addressed to all California Superintendents and school board members after the court had initially granted a temporary restraining order (TRO), alerting stakeholders that the TRO enjoining the Board’s mandatory gender identity disclosure policy remained in full force and effect. The Superior Court’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the Attorney challenging the enforcement of the Board’s forced outing policy. Prior to filing a lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta announced that he had opened a civil rights investigation into the legality of the Board’s adoption of the policy. Prior to opening the investigation, Attorney General Bonta in July sent a letter to Superintendent Norman Enfield and the Board of Education cautioning them of the dangers of adopting the forced outing policy and explaining that the policy potentially infringed on students' privacy rights and educational opportunities.
  • Attorney General Bonta has issued statements following Dry Creek Joint Elementary School DistrictRocklin Unified School DistrictAnderson Union High School District, and Temecula Valley and Murrieta Valley Unified School District Boards’ decision to implement copy-cat mandatory gender identity disclosure policies targeting transgender and gender-nonconforming students. 
  • In October, Attorney General Bonta joined a multistate amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of plaintiffs in Doe v. Horne, challenging Arizona’s recently-enacted legislation prohibiting transgender students from participating on women’s and girls’ school athletic teams.
  • In September, Attorney General Bonta led a multistate coalition of 20 attorneys general in opposing a state law in Indiana that severely blocks the ability of transgender youth to access critical, lifesaving gender-affirming care.
  • In August, Attorney General Bonta led a multistate coalition in filing an amicus brief opposing state laws in Kentucky and Tennessee restricting transgender youths' access to critical and lifesaving healthcare.
  • In June, Attorney General Bonta joined a coalition in support of the Ludlow School Committee’s efforts to create a safe and supportive environment for transgender children and all students.
  • In May, Attorney General Bonta led a multistate coalition in supporting a challenge to a Florida rule restricting access to gender-affirming care and joined another multistate coalition defending a Colorado law that prohibits gay and transgender conversion therapy on children and youth.

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

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.

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