Today, Mayor Biskupski announced Salt Lake City was joining 31 other jurisdictions in an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of transgender students’ right to be free from discrimination at school, including the right to use restrooms and other sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity. The brief was prepared by San Francisco and New York City, and was joined by Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, and two-dozen other cities, counties, and mayors.
The amicus brief, filed in the case of Gloucester County Bd v. G.G., argues that Title IX—a federal law forbidding discrimination in schools on the basis of sex—protects transgender students from discrimination.
The case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 17-year-old transgender boy Gavin Grimm after the Gloucester County, Virginia, School Board passed a discriminatory policy that treats him differently from all other boys by preventing him from using the boys’ restrooms. Transgender students like Gavin are instead forced to use separate single-stall restrooms.
The amicus brief argues that forcing transgender students to use these separate restrooms is a form of “separate but equal” treatment that imposes significant burdens on those students. It visibly marks them as different from their peers and exposes them to a risk of violence and harassment. It also prevents them from receiving an equal education by requiring them to miss valuable class and activity time to visit restrooms that may not be conveniently located.
The brief also notes that for decades over 200 cities, counties, and other municipalities have been adopting and enforcing local laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender people, which promote public safety and protect everyone’s privacy.
“Salt Lake City has a proud history of protecting LGBTQ rights and we will always defend the principles of equality in our City, State, or around the country,” said Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “Salt Lake City led the way in bringing anti-discrimination laws to Utah, the Salt Lake City Police Department recently issued a policy guiding officers to respect gender identity, and last year we began offering our employees some transgender health benefits.”
The State of Utah has joined an amicus brief in support of the school district, arguing that an administrative action by the Obama Administration, which directed schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice, violated state’s rights. On February 22nd, the Trump Administration rescinded that decision.
“This is no longer an issue of states’ rights, it’s an issue of equality and education,” said Mayor Biskupski. “We should be focusing on helping our kids access books and not trying to control where they go to the bathroom.”
The Salt Lake City School District currently has a gender nondiscrimination policy in place, which includes gender identity.
In April 2016, Salt Lake City also joined other municipalities in banning non-essential employee travel to North Carolina and Mississippi after anti-LGBT legislation passed in those states.