The Trevor Project Opposes HB 609, the Montana Locker Room Privacy Act

March 28, 2017

The Honorable Chairman Alan Doane House Committee on the Judiciary

268 County Road 521

Bloomfield, MT 59315

Dear Chairman Doane:

The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth (LGBTQ) writes to strongly urge you to vote against HB 609, the Montana Locker Room Privacy Act. Many organizations are weighing in on the devastating impacts this bill will have on transgender youth, but it is also critically important that you consider the public health impact this bill will have on the transgender youth of Montana.

The Trevor Project serves youth under 25 and works to save young lives through our accredited free and confidential lifeline, secure instant messaging services which provide live help and intervention, a social networking community for LGBTQ youth, in-school workshops, educational materials, online resources, and advocacy.

Unfortunately, there is a great need for an organization such as Trevor. Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. (i) While this alone is shocking enough, it pales in comparison to the statistics regarding transgender youth. In a recent national survey, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25. (ii)

There are many factors that contribute to the high suicide rate for transgender youth: lack of understanding and awareness from others: the rejection of family and friends; bullying; mental health challenges; discrimination and societal stigmatization. If HB 609 is allowed to become law, this ostracizing policy will become one more brick on the backs of transgender youth who are already on the verge of collapsing from too much weight.

Not being allowed to use the restroom or locker room consistent with one’s gender identity can cause significant psychological and social distress. In fact, research has shown a high correlation between transgender young people being denied the right to use the appropriate bathroom and suicidality. (iii) The spread of knowledge that a young person is transgender by others because one requests a reasonable accommodation can lead to severe bullying and violence, including homicide.  Every year in the United States, transgender individuals are killed simply because of who they are. This year alone at least eight transgender individuals have been murdered in the United States. (iv)   Living one’s life as a transgender individual is brave, but it’s also very risky.

Many cities and states have laws explicitly allowing transgender individuals to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity. (v) Since the passage of those laws there hasn’t been a single case of a person posing as a transgender individual to gain access to a restroom for the purpose of carrying out a sexual assault. (vi) Therefore, the idea behind this bill to “protect” children was actually built on a false premise and passing it does nothing to help protect students from predators. In addition, as discussed above, allowing this bill to pass may cause significant suffering for transgender youth in Montana. This should be of particular concern for legislators because Montana currently has the third highest rate of suicide deaths of all fifty states. In 2015, the most current year for which we have data, Montana had a total of 272 deaths by suicide. The national average of suicide deaths is 13.8 per 100,000 residents, Montana’s is 26.3, almost double that of the national average. (vii) In the past year, Trevor has had almost 200 calls, chats and texts from youth in Montana that include transgender youth in mental health crises or youth who were struggling with suicidal ideation. We don’t want the sometimes fragile mental health of transgender youth to possibly be made any worse through public policy that actively discriminates and ostracizes them.

In order to ameliorate this serious public health issue facing Montana, we strongly urge you to vote against HB 609. Should you have any questions or comments please contact Amy Loudermilk, Associate Director of Government Affairs at
or 202-391-0834.

Sincerely,

Steve Mendelsohn

Interim Executive Director

i Kann, L., O’Malley Olsen, E., McManus, T., Kinchecn, S., Chyen, D., Harris, W. A., Wechsler, H. (2011). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contracts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students Grades 9-12 – Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, Selected Sites, United States, 2001-2009, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 60(SS07), 1-133.

ii James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality

iii Seelman, Kristie L. (2016). Transgender Adults’ Access to College Bathrooms and Housing and Relationship to Suicidality. Journal of Homosexuality. 63(10), pp. 1378-1399. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.1080/00918369.2016.1157998?scroll=top&needAccess=true

ivSchmider, Alex. (2017). GLAAD calls for increased and accurate media coverage of transgender murders GLAAD. http://www.glaad.org/blog/glaad-calls-increased-and-accurate-media-coverage-transgender-murders

v American Civil Liberties Association. Know Your Rights: Transgender People and the Law. Accessed at: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/transgender-people-and-law

vi Brinker, Luke and Maza, Carlos. (2014, March 20). 15 Experts Debunk Right-Wing Transgender Bathroom Myth. Media Matters. Accessed at: http://mediamatters.org/research/2014/03/20/15-experts-debunk-right-wing-transgender-bathro/198533

vii Drapeau, C. W., & McIntosh, J. L. (for the American Association of Suicidology). (2016). U.S.A. suicide 2015: Official final data. Washington, DC: American Association of Suicidology, dated December 23, 2016, downloaded from http://www.suicidology.org.


National LGBTQ Groups Oppose Confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to Supreme Court

The Honorable Charles Grassley Chairman
Senate Committee on the Judiciary

224 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein Ranking Member
Senate Committee on the Judiciary

152 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

RE: National LGBT Groups Oppose Confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to Supreme Court

Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein:

The undersigned national advocacy organizations, representing the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and people living with HIV, oppose the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to be an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. After a comprehensive review of Judge Gorsuch’s record, we have concluded that his views on civil rights issues are fundamentally at odds with the notion that LGBT people are entitled to equality, liberty, justice and dignity under the law.

We wish to call to your attention the following aspects of Judge Gorsuch’s record and philosophy that are of particular concern to our organizations and our constituents, and that raise crucial questions of grave consequence to LGBT people, everyone living with HIV, and anyone who cares about these communities.

The Dangers of “Originalism.” Judge Gorsuch professes to be an “originalist.” (1) This philosophy treats the Constitution as frozen in time, meaning that, unless the Constitution has been amended to explicitly protect certain rights, individuals have no more rights today than they did in 1789. (2) This philosophy essentially writes LGBT people out of the Constitution. A few examples of how Judge Gorsuch’s approach would manifest itself in specific areas of the law illustrate why we believe that Judge Gorsuch poses such a grave threat to our community:

Fundamental Rights. We are concerned that Judge Gorsuch’s writings, including his book on assisted suicide, (3) reveal his open hostility toward the very existence of constitutionally protected fundamental rights. No one can read that book and come away with any reasonable doubt that Judge Gorsuch is deeply skeptical that our Constitution protects any fundamental rights beyond those expressly enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Among these unenumerated, yet well-established, fundamental rights are the rights to privacy, autonomy and self-determination, the right to parent, the right to procreative freedom, the right to engage in private consensual adult relationships, and the fundamental right to marry.

Although these rights are important to everyone, they are essential for the LGBT community. These are the rights that have been the lynchpin of our legal progress and that underlie the series of decisions—from Lawrence to Windsor to Obergefell (4) —that have transformed the place of LGBT people in our society. Based on his extensive record, there can be no doubt that, had he been on the Court, Judge Gorsuch would have rejected each of these basic rights. Indeed, as discussed further below, he has been openly critical of same-sex couples for even seeking to vindicate their constitutional rights, including the right to marry, through litigation.

We urge the Committee to press Judge Gorsuch to explain on his views about fundamental rights. For example:

  • Does he believe that there is a fundamental right to privacy, and if so, does the right as he understands it protect consensual adult sexual relationships?
  • Does he believe that the Constitution protects a fundamental right to marry? The right to access contraception? The right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy?

Judge Gorsuch’s articulated judicial philosophy is far outside the legal and social mainstream, and would significantly disrupt Americans’ expectations about the rights that they enjoy under the Constitution. His views should be as frightening to others as they are to the LGBT community. The Committee should require Judge Gorsuch to explain what he means when he describes himself as an “originalist.”

Equal Protection. An originalist view is hostile to the notion that laws targeting historically disfavored groups warrant any form of heightened scrutiny, with the exception of laws that discriminate on the basis of race. Because, in his view, the drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment did not intend to prohibit sex discrimination, Justice Scalia regularly voted against heightened constitutional protections for women. (5)

Judge Gorsuch has praised Justice Scalia, and presumably shares the late Justice’s view that laws targeting women for discrimination should receive nothing more than so-called “rational basis review.” In a 2016 article, Judge Gorsuch praised Justice Scalia’s approach to equal protection, and agreed that “judges should . . . strive (if humanly and so imperfectly) to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be.” (6)

The suggestion that sex-based classifications should not trigger heightened judicial scrutiny discrimination is far outside the mainstream, and has been rejected by the Supreme Court on numerous occasions. (7) If Judge Gorsuch adheres to Justice Scalia’s view that laws discriminating on the basis of gender should not be subjected to heightened scrutiny, then Judge Gorsuch would certainly find nothing wrong with laws that single out LGBT people for discrimination, so long as someone somewhere could conjure up some other reason for passing such a law.

On numerous occasions, the Supreme Court has struck down laws that were passed to make LGBT people “strangers to the law”—an anti-gay ballot initiative in Colorado,8 discriminatory state marriage laws, (9) and a federal law prohibiting recognition of same- sex couples’ marriages. (10) What level of scrutiny would an “originalist” like Judge Gorsuch apply to such laws? Judge Gorsuch should be asked to state his views on the record and required to explain how this approach can possibly be squared with existing Supreme Court precedents striking down laws that single out LGBT people for harmful, unequal treatment.

Role of Courts. Compounding the damage that would result from such a narrow view of the Constitution, Judge Gorsuch has expressed disapproval of people resorting to the courts at all to vindicate their civil rights. For example, in 2005, Judge Gorsuch wrote that “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom . . . as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage” to other issues. (11) He has also called private civil rights litigation “bad for the country.” (12) How can any members of historically persecuted groups, including LGBT people, have confidence that Judge Gorsuch would approach their specific cases with an open mind? The Committee should press these issues in the hearing, as this appointment would last long beyond the term of this particular President. Rather, the damage that could be done by this nominee could span generations.

In numerous other areas as well, Judge Gorsuch poses a significant threat to the LGBT community. In fact, his views are even more extreme and outside the mainstream than Justice Scalia’s, whom Judge Gorsuch is proposed to replace.

Approach to Statutory Construction.  Justice Scalia was a strict textualist, which meant he viewed as irrelevant whether Congress intended a particular understanding and application of the law. Instead, he focused simply on the words of the law as written. Consequently, Justice Scalia found that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination applies to same-sex sexual harassment even though “male-on-male sexual harassment in the workplace was assuredly not the principal evil Congress was concerned with when it enacted Title VII.” (13) Justice Scalia also observed, “[S]tatutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils, and it is ultimately the provisions of our laws rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed.” (14)

As set forth in the letters of other civil rights groups, Judge Gorsuch has taken an extremely narrow view of civil rights laws. (15) Indeed, one Stanford Law Review article analyzing his civil rights jurisprudence concluded:

Judge Gorsuch presents himself as a restrained judge. But that “restraint” often translates to extreme results when applied to legal rights open to interpretation. By attempting to hew to the narrowest reading of rights- creating text, Judge Gorsuch creates new understandings of the law, leaving litigants with limited access to courts and restricting the reach of constitutional and statutory protections. (16)

Although he claims to be an adherent of Justice Scalia’s philosophy, would Judge Gorsuch agree that laws like Title VII “often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils,” or would he, true to his Court of Appeals record, adopt an artificially narrow reading of the statute’s text in order to achieve his preferred, backwards-looking policy outcome? The Committee should press him on this point, as the civil rights of millions of Americans hang in the balance.

Religious Exemptions from Laws that Someone Believes Would Make Them “Complicit” in Actions of Others. In Employment Division v. Smith, Justice Scalia wrote that the First Amendment has never given individuals a right to opt out of laws that, in their view, burden their exercise of religion. (17)

Yet, in his 10th Circuit decision in Hobby Lobby, Judge Gorsuch insisted instead that any individual should be able to opt out of any law that, in that person’s view, makes them “complicit” in conduct of another considered to be immoral, regardless of how compelling the state’s interest in enforcing the law. (18) In Hobby Lobby, that meant a large for-profit corporation could ignore the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that employer-provided health insurance for employees must include coverage for birth control among basic care options.  Fortunately, the Supreme Court did not adopt Judge Gorsuch’s extreme approach, and made clear that an individual’s claim of religious liberty may not “unduly restrict other persons, such as employees, in protecting their own interests, interests the law deems compelling.” (19)

The Committee should interrogate Judge Gorsuch on his position in this area, as his views on “religious complicity” go well beyond anything that currently exists in American jurisprudence. For example:

  • Does employer-provided health care that includes infertility care make an employer “complicit” in a decision of a non-married couple to have children out of wedlock?
  • Would a law requiring that gender transition-related health care not be excluded from employee health plans make the employer “complicit” in an employee’s decision to undertake a gender transition?
  • Does providing health insurance coverage for an employee’s same-sex spouse make an employer “complicit” in that employee’s same-sex relationship?
  • Does providing coverage for medications such as PrEP, which prevents HIV infection, make an employer “complicit” in the employee’s private sexual conduct?

The American people are entitled to know more about Judge Gorsuch’s views on these subjects, so that they can understand how his approach could potentially impact their rights and their daily interactions with employers, physicians, and other service providers.

Finally, there are other areas where Judge Gorsuch’s views appear to be far outside the mainstream, and to warrant vigorous inquiry:

Relevance of Science to Legal Decision-Making. Judge Gorsuch signed onto an opinion holding that a transgender woman in prison whose hormone therapy was interrupted did not suffer irreparable harm. (20) And yet that conclusion flies in the face of the internationally-recognized Standards of Care of the World Professional Association of Transgender Health. (21) We would urge the Committee to ask Judge Gorsuch to clarify whether and when he thinks that medical or social science standards are relevant to legal decision-making.  For example:

  • Would Judge Gorsuch credit the three decades of social science scholarship confirming the parenting skills of LGBT people, or would he disregard these facts?
  • What about current public health understanding of how HIV is transmitted? Would Judge Gorsuch require some basis in fact for state laws concerning HIV transmission, or would he allow states to legislate based on fear and ignorance?

The Committee should insist that Judge Gorsuch explain his judicial philosophy in general on this question and how he would approach these and similar cases.

Employer Defenses to Claims of Discrimination. Numerous other groups have identified examples of Judge Gorsuch’s reluctance to enforce civil rights laws that protect workers. (22) One example in particular raises unique concerns for our community. In Kastl v. Maricopa County Community College District, (23) Judge Gorsuch signed onto an opinion rejecting a transgender woman’s claim of discrimination. In that case, the school denied her access to the women’s restroom, and claimed that it had a non-discriminatory reason for doing so unrelated to her “sex”—“safety concerns” due to the discomfort-based complaints of other students.

The notion that the discomfort of co-workers or customers is sufficient to defeat a claim of discrimination is not only incorrect, it is wholly inconsistent with decades of jurisprudence. (24) The suggestion that vague concerns about “safety,” privacy” or “discomfort” could be enough to satisfy an employer’s burden of proof in a discrimination case not only suggests a hostility to victims of discrimination generally, but also undermines any confidence that one might have that an LGBT person could receive a fair hearing before Judge Gorsuch.  The Committee should insist that Judge Gorsuch answer these and other important questions about his approach to labor and employment law.

The American people have a right to know how the appointment of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court would impact the rights of LGBT Americans, people living with HIV, and other at-risk communities who are entitled to rely upon the Constitution’s guarantees of equality, liberty, dignity and justice under the law. We urge the Committee to demand complete answers from Judge Gorsuch to the important questions that we and others have raised. Only by insisting that Judge Gorsuch answer these questions will the Committee fulfill its responsibility to the American people, and reveal the extent to which his nomination jeopardizes rights and liberties that many Americans believe are secure.

Thank you for considering our views on this important issue.

Very truly yours,

Lambda Legal

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

Equality California

Equality Federation

Family Equality Council

GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD)

GLSEN

Human Rights Campaign

National Black Justice Coalition

The National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance

OutServe-SLDN

PFLAG National Pride at Work

Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)

Transgender Law Center

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

The Trevor Project

Victory Institute

cc: United States Senate Judiciary Committee Members

1 See Neil M. Gorsuch, Of Lions and Bears, Judges and Legislators, and the Legacy of Justice Scalia, 66 CASE W. RES. L. REV. 905 (2015).

2 See Erwin Chemerinsky, What Could Gorsuch Mean for the Supreme Court?: A backward jurist, POLITICO (Feb. 1, 2017), available at http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/02/neil-gorsuch-supreme-court-future-214724 (“Under originalism, no longer would there be constitutional protection for privacy, including reproductive freedom, or a right to marriage equality for gays and lesbians, and or even protection of women from discrimination under equal protection. None of these rights were intended by the framers.”).

3 NEIL M. GORSUCH, THE FUTURE OF ASSISTED SUICIDE AND EUTHANASIA (2009).

4 Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003); United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013); Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015).

5 See, e.g., J.E.B. v. Alabama, 511 U.S. 127 (1994) (Scalia, J., dissenting, joined by Justice Thomas and Chief Justice Rehnquist) (arguing that state’s use of peremptory strikes on the basis of gender in jury selection did not violate Equal Protection Clause); United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996) (Scalia, J., dissenting).

6 See Of Lions and Bears, supra note 1.

7 See, e.g., Miss. Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718, 724 (1982) (citing Kirchberg v. Feenstra, 450 U.S. 455, 461 (1981); Pers. Adm’r of Mass. v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256, 273 (1979)); see also United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996) (referring to the Court’s “skeptical scrutiny” and the “demanding” burden of justification on the State).

8 See Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996).

9 See Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015).

10 See United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013).

11 Neil Gorsuch, Liberals’N’Lawsuits, NAT’L REVIEW ONLINE (Feb. 7, 2005), available at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/213590/liberalsnlawsuits-joseph-6.

12 Id.

13 Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, 523 U.S. 75, 79 (1998).

14  Id. at 79-80.

15 See, e.g., Letter from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to Charles Grassley & Dianne Feinstein (Feb. 15, 2017) (“Leadership Conference letter”); Letter from the Nat’l Educ. Ass’n to U.S. Senate Comm. on the Judiciary (Mar. 9, 2017); Letter from the Nat’l Council of Jewish Women to Mitch McConnell, Charles Schumer, Charles Grassley & Dianne Feinstein (Mar. 9, 2017); Letter from the People for the Am. Way to Mitch McConnell, Charles Schumer, Charles Grassley & Dianne Feinstein (Mar. 9, 2017); and Letter from the Bazelon Ctr. for Mental Health Law to Charles Grassley & Dianne Feinstein (undated).

16 Maria Buxton, Hannah Kieschnick & Robyn D. Levin, Judge Gorsuch and Civil Rights: A Restrictive Reading, 69 STAN. L. REV. ONLINE 155 (2017), available at https://review.law.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2017/03/69-Stan.-L.-Rev.-Online-155.pdf.

17  494 U.S. 872 (1990).

18 Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius, 723 F.3d 1114, 1152-56 (10th Cir. 2013) (Gorsuch, Kelly, Tymovich, J.J., concurring).

19 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751 (2014).

20  Druley v. Patton, 601 F. App’x 632 (10th Cir. 2015).

21 WORLD PROF’L ASS’N FOR TRANSGENDER HEALTH, STANDARDS OF CARE FOR THE HEALTH OF TRANSSEXUAL,
TRANSGENDER, AND GENDER NONCONFORMING PEOPLE 68 (7th ed. 2012) (“The consequences of abrupt withdrawal of hormones or lack of initiation of hormone therapy when medically necessary include a high likelihood of negative outcomes such as surgical self-treatment by autocastration, depressed mood, dysphoria, and/or suicidality.”).

22  See, e.g., Leadership Conference letter, supra note 15.

23 325 F. App’x 492, 493 (9th Cir. 2009).

24 See, e.g., Palmore v. Sidoti, 466 U.S. 429 (1984) (“Private biases may be outside the reach of the law, but the law cannot, directly or indirectly, give them effect”).


The Trevor Project Signs Mental Health Liaison Group’s Medicaid Letter

The Honorable Mitch McConnell Senate Majority Leader
317 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Paul Ryan Speaker of the House
1233 Longworth House Building Office Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi House Minority Leader
233 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Charles Schumer Senate Minority Leader
322 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Speaker Ryan, Majority Leader McConnell, and Democratic Leaders Pelosi and Schumer:

The Mental Health Liaison Group (MHLG) wishes to express serious concern about recent proposals that would restructure the long-standing and fundamental federal-state financing partnership of the Medicaid program. Such efforts could adversely impact the 14 million vulnerable people living with mental or substance use disorders who depend heavily on Medicaid coverage.

The MHLG is a coalition of more than 60 national organizations representing consumers, family members, mental health and substance use treatment providers, advocates, payers, and other stakeholders committed to strengthening Americans’ access to mental health and substance use services and programs. We urge you to continue to protect vulnerable Americans’ access to vital mental health and substance use disorder care and programs by not reversing the progress we have made with the recent enactment of key mental health reforms in the 21st Century Cures Act and earlier reforms, such as the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPEA) of 2008.

The importance of Medicaid coverage for people living with mental or substance use disorders cannot be overstated. Medicaid is the single largest payer for behavioral health services in the United States, accounting for about 26 percent of behavioral health spending, and is the largest source of funding for the country’s public mental health system. One in five of Medicaid’s nearly 70 million beneficiaries have a mental or substance use disorder diagnosis.

Medicaid covers a broad range of behavioral health services at low or not cost, including but not limited to psychiatric hospital care, residential treatment for children, case management, day treatment, evaluation and testing, psychosocial rehabilitation (which includes supported employment, housing, and education), medication management, school-based services as well as individual, group and family therapy. In three dozen states, Medicaid covers essential peer support services to help sustain  recovery. Because people with behavioral health disorders experience a higher rate of chronic physical conditions than the general population, Medicaid’s coverage of primary care helps them receive treatment for both their behavioral health disorders and their physical conditions.

The state Medicaid expansion has proven to be crucial for low-income adults living with mental and substance use disorders. About 29 percent (3 million people) of low-income persons who receive health insurance coverage through the state Medicaid expansion program have a mental or substance use disorder. In states that have expanded Medicaid and which have been particularly hard hit by the opioid crisis, such as Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, Medicaid pays between 35 to 50 percent of medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders.

We now know that early access to mental health and substance use disorder services is essential to reducing the incidence and severity of these disorders. We also know that treating these disorders is a key factor in reducing the nation’s overall health care costs and the incidence of adverse encounters with the criminal justice system and homelessness, as well as in keeping people both in school and employed. Medicaid enables low-income people with mental or substance use disorders to receive care when they need it rather than waiting until there is a crisis, thus enabling them to lead healthier lives as fully participating members of our communities.

Recognizing Medicaid’s vital role in bringing mental health and substance use services to vulnerable populations, we are deeply concerned about recent proposals to block grant or cap the federal share of Medicaid. These models would dramatically restructure Medicaid’s joint federal-state financing partnership and the federal government’s guarantee of matching funds to states for qualifying Medicaid expenditures. Although details of current proposals have not yet been released, based on past proposals, we believe that converting Medicaid into a block grant or a per capita cap would shift significant costs to states up front, and over time. Experts have forecasted a 30 to 40 percent cut in the federal share of Medicaid over 10 years (Sperling, New York Times, December 25, 2016). Ultimately, states will be forced to reduce their Medicaid rolls, benefits, and already low payment rates to an already scarce workforce of behavioral health providers. Mental health and substance use disorder treatments and programs will be at high risk.

If states are forced to limit enrollment, eliminate covered benefits, and cut provider rates, we also believe that this will lead to substantial job losses in the behavioral health care industry. Such job losses could lead to additional unemployment, followed by additional reliance on public safety net programs, such as Medicaid.

The MHLG believes that the integrity of the Medicaid program must be preserved and that much can be achieved through more targeted reforms, such as the types of reforms we supported in the recently enacted 21st Century Cures Act. These included, for example, mental health prevention in the very young, early intervention, and care coordination and integration. We stand ready to work with you to promote these types of targeted reforms throughout the Medicaid program.

Sincerely,

American Art Therapy Association
American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
American Association on Health and Disability
American Counseling Association
American Dance Therapy Association
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
American Group Psychotherapy Association
American Nurses Association
American Occupational Therapy Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
American Society of Addiction Medicine
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare
Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
Clinical Social Work Association
Clinical Social Work Guild 49 OPEIU-AFL-CIO
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Eating Disorders Coalition
EMDR International Association
Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice
International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium
The Jewish Federations of North America
Legal Action Center
Mental Health America
NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health
National Association for Rural Mental Health
National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors
National Association of School Psychologists
National Association of Social Workers
National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
National Health Care for the Homeless Council
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
National Register of Health Service Psychologists
Sandy Hook Promise
School Social Work Association of America
The Trevor Project
Treatment Communities of America


30 LGBTQ Organizations Join Letter Opposing Efforts to Block Patients from Planned Parenthood

The Honorable Mitch McConnell Senate Majority Leader
317 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer Senate Minority Leader
322 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Paul Ryan Speaker of the House
1233 Longworth House Building Office Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi House Minority Leader
233 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515

March 8, 2017

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, House Speaker Ryan, and House Minority Leader Pelosi,

We, the undersigned organizations committed to the health and rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, urge Congress not to block patients from accessing critical, federally supported sexual and reproductive health care and information from Planned Parenthood.

For 100 years, Planned Parenthood has been an essential source of compassionate health care in the United States. Planned Parenthood health centers across the country provide lifesaving primary and preventive care, including cancer screenings, birth control, and sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV services to 2.5 million people every year – nearly half of whom are people of color, and many people who live in rural areas.

LGBTQ people have unique health care needs and often experience significant challenges in getting the sexual and reproductive health care they seek. For instance, LGBTQ individuals are less likely to be insured1 and are at higher risk for HIV2 and certain cancers.3 Moreover, the discrimination and harassment that LGBTQ people too often endure within and outside of the medical system also has negative effects on mental and physical health.4 Unfortunately, the disparities are even more pronounced among LGBTQ people of color.5

Planned Parenthood takes pride in providing high-quality health care for LGBTQ people. Its doors are open to everyone — regardless of their gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. And Planned Parenthood is committed to providing care that is tailored to the needs and concerns of LGBTQ patients. Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health clinics have been at the forefront of providing safe, welcoming spaces for LGBT people to receive critical health care services, when others in the health care system have been less welcoming. Planned Parenthood has in fact become one of the largest providers of health care to transgender people in the U.S. As the nation’s largest provider of sex education, Planned Parenthood provides accurate information, education, and resources on the full range of topics relating to sexuality and sexual health, including sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity to youth and adults of all ages every day.

Because of the importance of Planned Parenthood to LGBTQ health, we strongly oppose the intent of Congressional leadership to bar Medicaid patients across the country from using their coverage to access care from Planned Parenthood health centers – through budget reconciliation or by any other means. If these actions were to succeed, it would be a public health disaster. Experts agree that other safety net health care providers – many of whom already face significant challenges meeting existing demand – could not successfully absorb the flood of patients defunding Planned Parenthood would cause.6 Many patients would have nowhere else to turn for care.

The general public joins the LGBTQ health and rights community in its support for Planned Parenthood, and strongly opposes “defunding” care at Planned Parenthood health centers. In fact, 19 separate nationwide polls show the public’s strong support for Planned Parenthood and strong opposition to defunding efforts.7

Thus, we urge the 115th Congress to support the millions of patients who depend on vital care from Planned Parenthood health centers. Given the health challenges facing LGBTQ populations today, our country must expand – not limit – timely access to trusted providers of sexual and reproductive health care.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Julie Gonen, Policy Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, at [email protected]

Sincerely,

Advocates for Youth American Civil Liberties Union

American Psychological Association Basic Rights Oregon

Equality California Equality Federation Family Equality Council FORGE, Inc.

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality

GLSEN

HIV Medicine Association

Human Rights Campaign

Lambda Legal

Los Angeles LGBT Center

Movement Advancement Project

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

National Council of Jewish Women

People For the American Way

PFLAG

National Pride at Work

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS)

The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

The Trevor Project

Transcend Legal

URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity

Whitman-Walker Health

Witness to Mass Incarceration

1 Gary J. Gates, “In U.S., LGBT More Likely Than Non-LGBT to Be Uninsured,” Gallup (Aug. 2014), available at http://www.gallup.com/poll/175445/lgbt-likely-non-lgbt-uninsured.aspx.

2 Human Rights Campaign, “How HIV Impacts LGBTQ People” (Feb. 2017), available at http://www.hrc.org/resources/hrc-issue-brief-hiv-aids-and-the-lgbt-community.

3 Kaiser Family Foundation, Health and Access to Care and Coverage for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Individuals in the U.S. (Nov. 2016), available at http://kff.org/disparities-policy/issue-brief/health-and-access- to-care-and-coverage-for-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-individuals-in-the-u-s/.

4 Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People 2020: LGBT Health Topic Area (2015), available at http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-health.

5 Center for American Progress, “Health Disparities in LGBT Communities of Color: By the Numbers” (2010), available at https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/news/2010/01/15/7132/health-disparities-in-lgbt- communities-of-color.

6 Sara Rosenbaum, “Planned Parenthood, Community Health Centers, And Women’s Health: Getting The Facts Right,” Health Affairs (Sept. 2015) available at http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2015/09/02/planned-parenthood- community-health-centers-and-womens-health-getting-the-facts-right/.

7 Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Public Overwhelmingly Supports Planned Parenthood (Jan. 2017), available at https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/uploads/filer_public/f2/81/f281aa0f-9f38-4da2-b2b9- 1f37ae490d2d/20170105_fs-ppsupport_r4.pdf (citing the results of 19 national polls).


156 Civil and Human Rights Groups Call for Stronger Response to Hate Incidents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2017
Contact: Shin Inouye, 202.869.0398, [email protected]

WASHINGTON –The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 155 civil and human rights groups today called upon the Executive Branch to respond more quickly and forcefully to hate-based incidents, which have been occurring at an alarming rate in recent months.  The statement follows:

“Our diversity is part of what makes America great, and incidents motivated by hate are an affront to the values we share. No one should face acts of violence or intimidation because of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, or national origin.

Just this year, we have seen an alarming increase in accounts and reports of hate-based acts of violence and intimidation. Some recent examples include:

The February shooting in Olathe, Kansas, where two Indian Hindu Americans were attacked, killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla;
Four mosques burned in the past two months, in Texas, Washington, and Florida, and more defaced by acts of vandalism;
Numerous bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers, synagogues, and ADL offices around the country;
The recent shooting in Washington state of a Sikh American outside of his home;
Racist graffiti targeting African Americans in Stamford, Connecticut and at a high school in Lake Oswego, Oregon;
An attack on a Latino man in Daly City, California, and an attack on a Hispanic woman in Queens, New York, with both targeted because of their ethnicity;
The murders of seven transgender women of color, including six African Americans and one Native American.
While we welcome President Trump’s remarks to the joint session of Congress, where he noted ‘we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms,’ it was the first public acknowledgement he had made on specific recent events.  It is clear that the President has been slow to respond to hate incidents, when he has responded at all.  We strongly believe the President has a moral obligation to use his bully pulpit to speak out against acts of hatred when they occur.

Moreover, the President and his surrogates have too frequently used rhetoric and proposed and enacted policies that have fostered a hostile environment toward many, including African Americans, Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim, and immigrant and refugee communities. The President cannot condemn hate in one sentence and then in the same speech, promote falsehoods that can lead to bias and hate violence.

We as a nation are stronger when we are inclusive. We encourage the President, his staff and members of his Cabinet to condemn hate incidents when they happen.  We appreciate Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly’s recent condemnation of these acts and his pledge for support and outreach by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Especially given the unique obligations and responsibilities of the Department of Justice, we strongly urge Attorney General Sessions to take similar actions.

We also urge the President to continue the tradition of a White House interagency task force on hate violence, and make available the full resources of the federal government to track and report hate crimes, to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators, and to aid affected communities. Our inclusive democracy demands no less.”

Signed,

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
9to5, National Association of Working Women
The Aafia Foundation
AAUW
ACRS
The African American Policy Forum
American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity
American Constitution Society for Law & Policy
American Federation of Teachers
American Islamic Congress
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Amnesty International USA
Anti-Defamation League
Arab American Institute
Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
Asian American Organizing Project
Asian American Psychological Association
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Chicago
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles
Asian Americans United
Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote
Asian Counseling and Referral Service
Asian Law Alliance
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA)
Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center
Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)
Asian Pacific American Senior Coalition
Asian Pacific Development Center
Asian Services In Action
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO)
AZAPIAVote Table
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Black Women’s Roundtable
Black Youth Vote!
B’nai B’rith International
Center for Asian American Media
Chinese Community Center, Houston
Church of Scientology National Affairs Office
Church World Service
Coalition for Disability Health Equity
Coalition on Human Needs
DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Domestic Worker Legacy Fund
Equal Justice Society
Equal Rights Advocates
Equality California
Farmworker Justice
Global Justice Institute, Metropolitan Community Churches
GLSEN
Hindu American Foundation
Hispanic Federation
Housing Choice Partners
Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights First
Institute for Science and Human Values
Interfaith Alliance
The Interfaith Center of New York
International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies
Islamic Networks Group (ING)
Japanese American Citizens League
Jewish Labor Committee
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
Lambda Legal
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
League of United Latin American Citizens
Matthew Shepard Foundation
MiNDS & the #Beyond2016 Initiative
Muslim Advocates
NAACP
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
NANAY Community Economic Development Corporation
National Action Network
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Association of Human Rights Workers
National Association of Social Workers
National Bar Association
National Black Justice Coalition
National CAPACD
National Center for Law and Economic Justice
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
National Collaborative for Health Equity
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council on independent living
National Disability Rights Network
National Domestic Workers Alliance
National Education Association
National Employment Law Project
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Hispanic Media Coalition
National Immigration Law Center
National Iranian American Council
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Network for Arab American Communities
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for New Americans
National Partnership for Women and Families
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
National Women’s Law Center
National Youth Employment Coalition
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
New Mexico Asian Family Center
OCA
OCA Greater Houston
Ohio Council of Churches
OneAmerica
People For the American Way
PFLAG National
PolicyLink
Poligon Education Fund
Population Connection Action Fund
Presbyterian Feminist Agenda
Presbyterian USA
Pride at Work
Progressive Congress Action Fund
Project Vote
Public Advocates Inc.
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union
The Revolutionary Love Project
SABA North America
Service Employees International Union
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
The Sikh Coalition
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
South Asian Bar Association of North America
South Asian Fund For Education, Scholarship & Training (SAFEST)
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
Southern Poverty Law Center
State Innovation Exchange (SiX)
TASH
Transformative Justice Coalition
The Trevor Project
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Union for Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Church of Christ, OC Inc.
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
The Voter Participation Center
We Belong Together
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism
Women’s Voices.Women Vote Action Fund
Woodhull Freedom Foundation
YWCA USA


Letter from Interim Executive Director Steve Mendelsohn

Dear Friends,

March is an exciting month for the LGBTQ+ community and The Trevor Project, as we take time to celebrate a range of important events that raise awareness for identities and issues within our diverse community.  During this period of uncertainty and stress, it’s even more important for us to take time to recognize the health issues facing our community, and to take action to heal them.

March is Bisexual Health Awareness Month, and this year The Bisexual Resource Center announced that the month’s focus will be identifying social health disparities within the bisexual community while taking steps to build social support and resiliency. “Now more than ever, communities need to come together to offer support, stand up to injustice, and plan our continued efforts to survive and thrive,” said BRC Co-Presidents Heather Benjamin and Kate Estrop in a joint statement.  We encourage young people who are bisexual, pansexual, queer, questioning, or simply curious to check out our Support Center with resources on bisexuality.

We kicked off March a bit early from February 26th to March 4th by recognizing National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. LGBTQ-identified people are disproportionately impacted by eating disorders, as they experience unique stressors that can be contributing factors in the development of an eating disorder, such as coming out and harassment in schools or the workplace.  Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse — all of which are common co-occurring conditions — can all compound this issue.  To raise awareness, we co-hosted two Twitter chats using the hashtag #NEDAwareness to talk about this issue.  We encourage all young people to reach out to NEDA to find resources and support.

March also marks Women’s History Month.  Our social media channels will be featuring LGBTQ women who have made a huge impact throughout the month.  Also, check out some of our Trevor Project staff wearing red in solidarity with the #DayWithoutAWoman strike.

Trevor is also continuously monitoring issues that affect our LGBTQ young people and we’re working in coalition with our colleague organizations to respond to issues that arise on the federal, state and local levels.  We update our blog on a regular basis with statements and letters we’ve submitted via the many coalitions we are a part of.

We wrap up March by celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) on March 31st, a day to show your support for the trans community.  Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance in November which is primarily a day of mourning, TDOV is a day of empowerment to celebrate and recognize the amazing trans community.  In the face of the Title IX Guidance Withdrawal and the Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Gavin Grimm case, it’s even more important for us to show up as visible allies in solidarity with trans folks around the country.  Join in with the hashtag #TDOR as we celebrate!

However you identify, we encourage all young people who are struggling to reach out to talk to us 24/7/365 at: 866-488-7386 or contact us via text or chat.  We hear you and we are here to support you no matter what.

Steve Mendelsohn
Interim Executive Director, The Trevor Project


The Trevor Project Competes to Win the Brackets For Good Championship!

The Trevor Project is honored to be selected by AT&T to participate in an online competition called “Brackets for Good” which works very similarly to how NCAA basketball teams advance through the March Madness tournament.  With all the stress that the world is serving us right now, The Trevor Project sees this as an excellent way to put our energy into creating positive change by supporting LGBTQ+ youth.

The way the Trevor Project wins Brackets for Good is by advancing through the brackets based on donations.  Every dollar donated equals a point for Trevor.  You can help Trevor advance by putting your points on the board! Every dollar you donate moves us closer to our goal. Get in the game and help us win!

The first round of the tournament has already ended and we’ve made it to the next bracket!  With your help we can advance to the next round and even go as far as winning the championship and a $100,000 grant from AT&T. A grant of this size would help us provide additional days each week of TrevorText and TrevorChat, our free, confidential and secure service in which LGBTQ young people can text or chat with a highly-trained Trevor counselor for support and crisis intervention.

Share this with other sports fans who understand the power of giving, or with anyone who believes that LGBTQ young people deserve help when and how they need it and to know that they are not alone. You can also share this competition via your social media:

Want to support LGBTQ+ youth? Donate to our @BracketsForGood campaign to help @TrevorProject  win the championship!


Ingrid Michaelson​ Supports The Trevor Project with #UseYourHeart Tees

The Trevor Project is thrilled that singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson is using her creative talents to support crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs and services for LGBTQ youth by designing and selling a t-shirt with proceeds coming back to the organization. Ingrid says, “I, like many others, have been deeply affected by the divisiveness in this country, which appears to be magnified more so now than ever. I wanted to do something to help bring people together, but I didn’t know what. A few friends suggested designing a tee and donating the profits to an organization that protects people who may feel threatened in this present climate. So that’s what I did. I feel like we can all agree that this is an important time to use your heart.”

So far, Ingrid has sold more than 1,000 shirts and she sent the shirt to a number of her friends, a few of whom we are sure you’ll recognize.  Check out this one minute video to see who is using their heart and supporting Trevor.  Ingrid sells this “Use Your Heart” shirt via her website – get yours today!

Once your “Use Your Heart” Tee arrives, tag photos of yourself wearing the shirt using #UseYourHeartTee and @UseYourHeartTee @TrevorProject on Instagram and Twitter to show your support.


The Trevor Project Responds to Gavin Grimm’s Supreme Court Case

The Trevor Project is disappointed to learn of the Supreme Court’s decision to send transgender student Gavin Grimm’s case back to the lower appeals court.  We, like many others, hoped this Title IX question would be settled once and for all and that no other transgender youth would have to engage in psychologically taxing litigation and scrutiny.  We remain optimistic that the appeals court will again uphold their initial ruling that Title IX protects transgender students.

Steve Mendelsohn, the Interim Executive Director of The Trevor Project said, “Not being allowed to use the restroom or locker room consistent with one’s gender identity can cause significant psychological and social distress. In fact, research has shown a high correlation between transgender young people being denied the right to use the appropriate bathroom and suicidality.  We are hopeful that the lower court will support their earlier decision which will contribute to the well-being of trans youth and reduce the likelihood of poor mental health outcomes in these populations.”

We #StandWithGavin.


The Trevor Project Joins SF & NYC in Supporting Education Equality for Trans Students

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE CITY OF NEW YORK

CONTACT: [email protected], (212) 788-2958

NEW YORK––The de Blasio Administration today announced that New York City, in collaboration with the City and County of San Francisco, and together with a coalition of 29 other municipalities across the nation, has submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the plaintiff in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. The plaintiff, a transgender teenage boy, challenges a school board’s policy requiring students to use the restrooms corresponding to their “biological genders.” He argues that the policy violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law barring sex discrimination by schools that receive federal education funding, because it prohibits him from using the school restrooms consistent with his gender identity.

“Every student deserves to feel safe and welcome in their school, regardless of their gender identity. Access to bathrooms and other essential facilities is a fundamental human right that should not be restricted or denied to anyone. New York City has long been a leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality, and we are proud to stand with transgender and gender non-conforming people across the country in the fight against discrimination,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Every day, New Yorkers who identify as transgender are burdened with worry and uncertainty that they will not have the privacy for personal needs that most New Yorkers take for granted. That is not acceptable – especially when it comes to our young people. I will not stop fighting for transgender New Yorkers. It is the right thing to do and we must stand up for the rights of others, just as we safeguard our own,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, Chair of the Commission on Gender Equity.

“Transgender individuals are our neighbors, constituents, family and friends, and their exercise of personal freedoms only makes New York City stronger,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Under the current federal administration, these targeted attacks on the rights of transgender persons have gained a renewed legitimacy across the country. This cannot continue, and I am proud to stand with San Francisco and dozens of other municipalities in speaking out and fighting back against these abhorrent practices. We at the City Council have consistently worked to advance the rights of our transgender residents – because everyone deserves to feel safe in public spaces, whether that is in a park or a bathroom, and especially in a school.”

City Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter said, “New York and other cities have adopted local laws that guarantee transgender students the right to use the restrooms consistent with their gender identity. And despite the claims made by the school board and its supporters in this case, these inclusive policies embodied in local laws have lowered barriers to equal educational opportunity for transgender students, strengthened our school communities, and made all students safer. But history teaches that the imprimatur of federal law in enforcing fundamental civil rights is separately important and the federal government should continue to play its traditional role in protecting the civil rights of transgender students.”

“Everyone deserves the right to use the bathroom or single-sex facility consistent with their gender identity, no questions asked,” said Chair and Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights, Carmelyn P. Malalis. “I’m proud to lead the City agency that enforces New York City’s strong anti-discrimination law protecting transgender and gender non-conforming individuals’ right to use restrooms free from discrimination. But not everyone in this country has such strong protections, which is why the U.S. Supreme Court should interpret Title IX to protect students’ right to be who they are and use the restroom consistent with their gender identity, free from discrimination.”

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said, “Students must be provided with a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment so that they can feel comfortable at school and focus on learning. In New York City public schools, that includes allowing students to use facilities that align with their gender identity and affirming their preferred pronouns – these are basic supports that all students nationwide should have. ”

The brief describes the experiences of New York City, San Francisco and other municipalities over the many years that they have had in place laws and policies protecting transgender individuals from discrimination – focusing in particular on laws and policies permitting transgender individuals in schools and other settings to use the restrooms and other single-sex facilities consistent with their gender identity.

The brief explains that policies granting transgender individuals equal access to these facilities:

  • Work well in practice. New York City, San Francisco and other jurisdictions allow transgender individuals to use the restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity in nearly all public settings. Their experiences with these policies have been overwhelmingly positive, both for transgender individuals and others, and the policies have proven easy to administer.
  • Enhance public safety. These policies protect transgender individuals from harassment and violence when they use public facilities. The amici municipalities know firsthand that the public-safety alarms sounded by opponents of these policies are unfounded. Amici’s experiences are consistent with the judgments of police departments around the country that these policies have not resulted in more incidents of sexual assault or voyeurism.
  • Increase privacy for all. Many municipalities encourage or require that reasonable alternative arrangements be provided, such as single-stall restrooms, to anyone on request, whether or not they are transgender. Increased privacy is particularly beneficial for adolescent students who may struggle with their body image.
  • Remove barriers to participation in society for transgender individuals. Transgender individuals are among the most vulnerable and marginalized members of society. Without these inclusive policies, even the simple act of using a public restroom can expose a transgender individual to harassment, violence, or even arrest. This risk threatens transgender individuals’ well-being and confronts them with a continual message of exclusion. Policies guaranteeing equal access play an important role in breaking down barriers to transgender individuals’ participation in society.

The entire brief can be found here.

“The Trevor Project stands with Gavin Grimm and the thousands of transgender young people across our nation who struggle every day to simply live their lives. Research has shown a high correlation between transgender young people being denied the right to use the appropriate bathroom and suicidality. In order to protect youth and save lives we call on the Supreme Court to finally settle this Title IX issue and reaffirm the lower court’s ruling,” said Steve Mendelsohn, Interim Executive Director of The Trevor Project.