Members of Congress rightly stand up to Trump and #StandWithGavin
© Getty

Last week, the Trump administration shamefully turned its back on transgender students across the country. In rescinding guidance on protections for trans students under Title IX issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice last May, the administration sent a terrible message to some of the most vulnerable young people in the country.

It was only several weeks ago that the White House proudly announced that “President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election.” But anti-LGBT actions speak far louder than empty words.


Thankfully, nearly 200 members of Congress just sent a very powerful message to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of trans students. The Court will soon hear arguments in Gavin Grimm’s transgender rights case. Gavin is a 17-year-old boy whose Virginia high school has forced him to use separate restroom facilities from all other students because he is transgender.


The ACLU sued the school district on Gavin’s behalf, and a lower federal court held that the school board’s actions were unlawful sex discrimination. The school board continued to fight against Gavin’s right to use the restroom all the way to the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments in the case on March 28.

On Thursday, in a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the Supreme Court, nearly 200 members of Congress correctly, in our view, argue that trans students are protected against discrimination under Title IX and that restricting restroom access to a student’s sex assigned at birth, as opposed to the gender the student lives every day, is unlawful under federal law.

The friend-of-the-court brief was spearheaded by Senators Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenCNN publishes first Al Franken op-ed since resignation Political world mourns loss of comedian Jerry Stiller Maher to Tara Reade on timing of sexual assault allegation: 'Why wait until Biden is our only hope?' MORE and Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Biden: I'll have a running mate picked next week The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided GOP to unveil COVID-19 bill MORE, as well as Representative Jared Polis. Those who signed it include Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Trump backs plan to give airlines another billion in aid MORE and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, as well as Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the proud mother of a transgender son.

This friend-of-the-court brief tells trans students and their families: The law is on your side. This is a message that the ACLU has repeatedly been making in recent weeks.

The Trump administration does not have the authority to undo legal protections for trans students. Indeed, they are protected by both the U.S. Constitution and Title IX. School districts around the country — regardless of whether they are in blue states or red states — must still comply with the law. Schools that have done the right thing by treating trans students with dignity and respect should continue to do so. Schools that discriminate against trans students — as in Gavin’s case — will continue to face liability in court.

While the Trump administration has now made clear that it will not step up to defend trans students, it’s very encouraging to see so many members of Congress who are willing to join Gavin and the ACLU in doing so.

As these congressional leaders recognize, every student deserves a fair chance to succeed in school and prepare for their future — and yes, President Trump, that includes students who are transgender.

Ian Thompson is a legislative representative for the ACLU.

The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.