By Allison Turner
March 2, 2017
Today, HRC announced that 53 major U.S. companies have joined a “friend of the court” brief supporting transgender student Gavin Grimm in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board. Grimm, a transgender boy, filed suit against the school board alleging it violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by denying him use of the boy’s restroom.
The Supreme Court’s decision in this case could have far-reaching consequences for transgender students across the nation.
“These companies are sending a powerful message to transgender children and their families that America’s leading businesses have their backs,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Across the country, corporate leaders are speaking out because they know attacking transgender youth isn’t just shameful — it also puts the families of their employees and customers at risk. Transgender students like Gavin are entitled to the full protection of the law, and must be affirmed, respected and protected in the classroom and beyond.”
Leading American businesses have long expressed a commitment to LGBTQ diversity and inclusion in their workforces as evidenced by inclusive policies, practices and benefits. Businesses realize being inclusive is not only the right thing to do — it just makes good business sense as well. Companies that are inclusive of LGBTQ people and employees with LGBTQ family members are able to attract and retain the best and brightest across a wide spectrum of diversity, reap the benefits from increased engagement and productivity, and actively participate in the vibrant LGBTQ consumer marketplace.
Having built inclusive workplaces for their transgender employees or even transgender dependents of employees, companies have a vested interest in the legal landscape in which those employees and their dependents live, work or go to school.
The 53 companies, representing over 1.3 million employees and $613 billion in revenue, signing the brief are:
Affirm, Inc., Airbnb, Inc., Amazon.com, Inc., Apple, Asana, Inc., Box, Inc., Codecademy, Credo Mobile, Inc., Dropbox, Inc., eBay Inc., Etsy, Fastly, Inc., Flipboard, Inc., Gap Inc., General Assembly, GitHub, Inc., IBM, Intel Corporation, Kickstarter, PBC, Knotel, Inc., LinkedIn, Lyft, M Booth, MAC Cosmetics Inc., Mapbox, Inc., Marin Software Incorporated, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, Microsoft Corporation, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, MongoDB Inc., NetApp, Inc., Next Fifteen Communications Corporation, Nextdoor, Pandora Media, Inc., PayPal Holdings, Inc., Postmates Inc., Replacements, Ltd., RetailMeNot, Inc., Salesforce, Shutterstock, Inc., Slack Technologies, Inc., Spotify, The OutCast Agency, The WhiteWave Foods Company, Tumblr, Inc., Twilio Inc., Twitter Inc., Udacity, Inc., Warby Parker, Williams-Sonoma, Inc., Yahoo! Inc., Yelp Inc., Zendesk, Inc.
The brief is was authored by BakerHostetler, one of the nation’s largest law firms.
In June, a federal court ordered the Gloucester County School Board to allow Grimm full access to the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity, consistent with a ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. In August, the Supreme Court of the United States halted the lower court’s order, allowing the school board’s discriminatory policy to remain in place while the court awaited an application by the school board to have its full appeal heard.
48 hours after Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General and a day after being sworn in, the Department of Justice moved to eliminate the Obama Administration’s challenge to a nationwide injunction against enforcement of the guidance, allowing the nationwide hold to continue. Despite this action, transgender students facing discrimination can still file suit under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
Allowing transgender people to access facilities consistent with their gender identity — something compelled for years by laws in 18 states as well as embraced by hundreds of cities and school districts around the country — has not resulted in problems. On the other hand, forcing transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities contrary to their identity can impose real harm on transgender students, further compounding the discrimination and marginalization they already face.
A recent study correlated the high suicide rates of transgender students with discriminatory bathroom restrictions, and, according to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program, more than 50 percent of transgender youth will have had at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday.