Attorney General Bonta Stands Up Against Absurd Legislative Attack on Transgender Schoolchildren

Tuesday, April 4, 2023
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OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in B.P.J. v. West Virginia State Board of Education in support of the ability of transgender students to participate in school sports. In the amicus brief, the coalition pushes back on an absurd legislative effort targeting transgender schoolchildren, which prohibited an 11-year-old transgender girl in West Virginia from playing on her school’s all-girls cross-country and track teams. The friend-of-the-court brief also highlights the pervasive harms caused by transgender discrimination and urges the appellate court to reverse the district court’s decision.

“Preventing transgender elementary kids from living regular lives through legislative action is absurd and dangerous,” said Attorney General Bonta. “No child should be denied the opportunity to have a normal childhood or play school sports because of their gender. Whether it’s in Florida, West Virginia, or anywhere else, my office is committed to safeguarding the rights of all of our nation’s children.”

The case, currently before the appellate court, centers on a challenge to West Virginia's recently passed House Bill 3293, which required segregation in school sports based on sex assigned at birth. The statute effectively prohibits transgender participation in sports based on gender identity. The current challenge to the statute arose as a result of a school informing an elementary school student that she would not be permitted to try out for the girls’ teams. In response, B.P.J. and her representatives filed a lawsuit against the West Virginia State Board of Education, the Harrison County Board of Education, and their respective superintendents, alleging that their refusal to allow her to play on her school’s all-girls cross-country and track teams violated her rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Unlike West Virginia, California and numerous other states protect the right of transgender students at K-12 schools to have equal access to school programs and activities — including school sports — in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity. 

In the amicus brief, the coalition asserts:

  • Transgender youth face pervasive and harmful discrimination that causes them serious health and academic harms;
  • Protecting transgender students from discrimination yields broad benefits for those students, the school learning environment, and society;
  • Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause prohibit the gender identity discrimination identified in this case; and
  • The appellate court should reverse the district court’s decision.

Attorney General Bonta is committed to protecting the civil rights of LGBTQ+ Americans in California and across the nation. Earlier this year, the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in support of efforts to create a safe and supportive environment for transgender schoolchildren in Maryland. In December, Attorney General Bonta continued to stand up against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, which censors or outright prohibits discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. He also led a multistate coalition opposing efforts led by Tennessee to undermine the rights of the more than 20 million LGBTQ+ Americans to live, work, and pursue education free from discrimination. In November, Attorney General Bonta pushed back on an effort to prohibit a 10-year-old transgender girl in Indiana from playing on her elementary school’s girls’ softball team. In October, the Attorney General filed an amicus brief in support of transgender individuals who had been unlawfully denied coverage for gender-affirming care in North Carolina. Earlier last year, he led a coalition of 21 attorneys general in support of a challenge to an Arkansas law attempting to prohibit healthcare professionals from providing transgender individuals with medically necessary care. The Attorney General also filed a legal brief in support of the ability of transgender students to participate in school sports in Connecticut and led a coalition of 15 attorneys general in defense of the right of transgender Alabamians to obtain driver’s licenses that correspond with their gender identity.

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

A copy of the amicus brief is available here.

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