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NASHVILLE – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Tennessee to challenge Tennessee law that prohibits transgender students, teachers, and staff from accessing washrooms, locker rooms, and to other sex-only facilities. compatible with their gender identity.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Washington DC-based LGBTQ advocacy group joined by law firms Linklaters and Branstetter, Stranch, & Jennings PLLC, is on behalf of two trans students currently enrolled in Tennessee schools and alleges the law violates Title IX, the Federal Law of 1972 which protects against sex discrimination in education.

In a press release, HRC noted that its federal lawsuit was brought on behalf of Alex *, 14, and his parents, Amy A. and Jeff S., as well as Ariel *, 6, and of his parents, Julie and Ross B.

“Alex is thrilled to be starting high school this fall where he will be an honorary student. His family moved to Tennessee in 2018 to build their “forever home” in an incredibly supportive and tight-knit neighborhood and Alex is proud to be involved in his community and has created strong friendships among his peers at school. “

We didn’t know we had a trans child when we moved to Tennessee – if Alex had spoken to us before the move we wouldn’t have come here. It makes me so angry that our elected officials have chosen to target transgender children. If lawmakers took the time to get to know my son, they would see that he is an amazing, intelligent, caring and creative person who has so much to offer. Alex just wants to be an ordinary kid. He should be able to expect to start high school without the extra layer of anxiety about something as basic as using the bathroom.

Amy and Jeff

He came out transgender before grade 7, however, in grade 7 he was not allowed to use the boys’ bathroom. Instead, Alex was forced to use either the school nurse’s private toilet or the toilet that matched his sex assigned at birth, not due to state law, but rather because of school policy. Both options were alienating and isolating for Alex who instead quit drinking liquids at school to avoid having to use the facilities.

Due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alex was transferred to a private school for grade 8 which affirmed his gender identity, including allowing boys to access the toilet. Alex had a great year without incident. He is also anxious to start high school at a public school near his home, but due to Tennessee’s anti-trans toilet law, he will again be forced to use a stigmatizing toilet or give up using it altogether. toilet.

To protect Alex, Amy and Jeff plan to leave their beloved community and leave their “forever home” out of fear for Alex’s safety at school and his emotional well-being, the statement concluded.

In the case of the second complainant, HRC noted: Similar to Alex, Ariel’s family built their “forever home” from scratch in a neighborhood she fell in love with and which filled Julie, Ross and Ariel with happiness. and friendship.

Ariel started expressing her gender identity at the age of 2 and as she approached 4, Julie read Ariel the children’s book “I Am Jazz” which tells the story of a transgender girl. . When the main character explains that she “has a boy’s body with a girl’s brain”. Ariel immediately lit up with excitement and eagerly said to her mother, “It’s me, mom, I have a boy’s body with a girl’s brain.”

Ever since Ariel began her social transition at age 4, her classmates, parents, teachers, and school administrators have known Ariel only as her authentic self. When she was enrolled in Kindergarten, her school was responsive and understood her gender identity and largely shielded Ariel from stigmatizing experiences.

In anticipation of Ariel’s first year starting at another school this fall, Julie reached out to the principal to discuss accommodations for her daughter.

Since Tennessee’s toilet law came into law, Ariel will have to use the boy’s toilet or the private nurse’s bathroom despite only using the girls’ toilet. Due to her young age, Ariel does not understand the ramifications of the law or why she is told to use the boys’ bathroom.

The state’s political leaders are making Tennessee a dangerous place for our daughter and other children like her. We are extremely worried about its future here, and the bills that are passed have put us in panic mode. They attack children who cannot defend themselves for what appears to be political gain over a non-existent problem. We want our leaders to take the time to speak with transgender youth and adults. Instead, their fear of the unknown unnecessarily directs their actions and causes irreparable harm to these children.

Julie and Ross

Julie and Ross are also considering leaving Tennessee because of these anti-transgender laws out of fear for their growing daughter, the statement concludes.

Under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments; Title IX expressly prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs funded by the federal government. In June, the US Department of Education announced it would broaden its interpretation of federal sexual protections to include transgender and gay students. The new policy directive means that discrimination based on a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity will be treated as a violation of Title IX.

The lawsuit also alleges that the law violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the US Constitution. Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court’s decision to deny certiorari in Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board has left in place a federal circuit court ruling recognizing the rights of trans students under Equal Protection Clause and Title IX.

In July, a federal judge blocked a new law in Tennessee that required businesses and other entities that allow transgender people to use public toilets corresponding to their gender to display a government-mandated warning sign.

“This law is bad for Tennessee businesses and, more importantly, harmful for transgender people,” said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee. “We are happy that the court saw that this law is likely unconstitutional and hope that the state forgoes the unnecessary effort to defend discrimination and a violation of the First Amendment.”

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