New York State Attorney General Letitia James Is Fighting Against The Discrimination Of Transgender Students In Schools

Image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York State’s Attorney General Letitia James is on a roll and taking no prisoners. 

After leading the investigation into sexual assault claims against the former New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, James is now leading the charge to combat discrimination against transgender students in the American school system. In a press release issued from the New York State Office of the Attorney General last week, she is co-leading the filing of an amicus brief along with 23 other attorney generals across multiple states in support of Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County. In this case, Drew Adams, a transgender male student from Ponte Vedra, Florida is arguing that being prohibited from using the boy’s bathroom is a direct violation of his constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. Attorney Generals from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia have joined Attorney General James in this effort.

The 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, ratified in 1868 to prevent the discrimination of Black Americans following the Civil War, outlines that states are not allowed to enforce the denial of citizens’ equal protection and upholds that they also be treated equally in the eyes of the law. Additionally, Title IX of the Education Amendments Act explicitly states that sexual discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance is forbidden. Included in the amendment is the prohibition of discrimination based upon pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity. 

“Transgender students deserve to feel safe and respected at all times, especially at school,” said Attorney General James. “Denying transgender students access to the correct bathroom cultivates a culture of intolerance and is blatant discrimination. This lawsuit is about more than just equal bathroom access—it is about eliminating unfair treatment of non-cisgendered students across the nation. Drew Adams should have never been discriminated against and the continued efforts to discriminate against transgender students is exactly why our coalition will do everything in our power to ensure they are provided with equal protection under the law.”

In October, Attorney General James advocated for the protection of the rights of transgender students in a similar case out of Connecticut with 20 other attorney generals. In the case of Soule v. Connecticut Association of Schools, four cisgender students filed a lawsuit that claimed that “the participation of transgender students in gender-segregated sports violates the rights of cisgender girls.” The lawsuit came after the implementation of a policy by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference that allowed transgender students to participate in gender-segregated sports according to their gender identity.

As a community that has been and continues to be historically disenfranchised, it is crucial that we acknowledge the intersectional oppression that pockets of our entire community faces. Injustice on the basis of gender identity requires and is reliant upon the support of us all in order to successfully combat. The work Letitia James is doing in tandem with the other attorney generals involved will help to foster holistic change and justice for all—creating an inclusive future that we all can be proud of.

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