LGBTQ groups say transgender people in the U.S. face growing threats of violence and discrimination.
A U.S. federal appeals court has upheld a Florida high school policy barring transgender high school students from using the restrooms of their chosen identity.
On Friday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a seven-to-four decision that a policy instituted by a school board in St. Johns County, Florida, did not violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution or federal civil rights law.
“This is an unusual ruling that runs counter to the rulings of every district to address this question across the country,” said Tara Borelli, a lawyer with the LGBTQ civil rights organization Lambda Legal, who was involved in the case. “We will review and evaluate this risky decision at the end of the week.”
This ruling is a victory for conservatives who wanted to introduce a strict concept of gender in institutions across the country. In May, Oklahoma became the latest state to sign into law a so-called “bathroom rule” that requires students in public schools to use restrooms, locker rooms and showers that match the gender on their birth certificates.
LGBTQ groups have fought back, accusing lawmakers of stoking fear and anger against transgender people. Lambda Legal is also challenging the Oklahoma law in federal court.
A St. Johns County policy forced transgender students to use the restrooms corresponding to their biological sex assigned at birth, not their chosen identity.
The policy was challenged in 2017 by Drew Adams, a transgender man who was not allowed to use the men’s restroom while a student at Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
The administration of US President Joe Biden asked the district court to overturn the ruling, but the court voted in favor of it. Six of the seven justices in the majority were appointed by former President Donald Trump, a Republican who rolled back protections for transgender people during his tenure.
States and localities across the US continue to implement policies that critics say discriminate against transgender people, including legislation that bars transgender youth from participating in sports teams and competitions that match their gender identity.
Earlier this month, a lawsuit was also filed against the US state of Georgia, alleging that the state’s health insurance policy unlawfully discriminated by refusing to pay for gender-based services.
“The exclusion communicates to transgender individuals and the public that their state government deems them ineligible for equal treatment,” the lawsuit states.
LGBTQ people in the US have expressed concern that the extreme rhetoric directed at them by conservative figures has contributed to a fueling environment and an “epidemic of hate”.
Right-wing groups, sometimes including members of armed militias, have protested against poverty demonstrations across the US. In Boston, a children’s hospital that offers gender-affirming medical treatment has faced multiple bomb threats. And a gunman attacked an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado last month, killing five people and injuring at least 17 others.
In December, Biden signed legislation protecting same-sex marriage rights amid concerns that the nation’s conservative-majority Supreme Court could roll back protections previously granted to LGBTQ people.
“This law, and the love it protects, strikes against hate in all its forms, and that’s why this law is important to every American, no matter who you are or who you love,” Biden said at the signing ceremony. .