Press Release April 25, 2016

Goodwin Litigators’ Amicus Brief Helps Vindicate Transgender Student’s Rights in Landmark Decision

Goodwin Procter litigators partnered with GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights to author a powerful amicus brief in support of Gavin Grimm, a 15-year-old transgender high school student who was prohibited from using the boys’ restrooms at school by the Gloucester County School Board, in his appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

After the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of Grimm, the district court dismissed Grimm’s Title IX claims and denied his motion for a preliminary injunction to allow him to use the boys’ restrooms during the pendency of the litigation. In a groundbreaking decision, the Fourth Circuit in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board reversed the dismissal of Grimm’s Title IX claims, holding in a 2-1 decision that the district court had failed to give Auer deference and controlling weight to an opinion letter by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights stating that “a school must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.”

The amicus brief was filed on behalf of leading medical and mental health associations specializing in the health and wellbeing of transgender individuals, including the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and the Pediatric Endocrine Society. Goodwin litigators emphasized current psychological research in child development and gender and sexuality to argue that schools play a critical role in the development of healthy children, including transgender students. Because of the central position of schools, administrators and teachers in adolescents’ lives, the brief argued, schools must combat the hostilities that transgender students may face by supporting and affirming their gender identity in all aspects of school life.

The Goodwin team consisted of partners Tom Hefferon and Mary Dulka and associates Christine Dieter, Jaime Santos and James Coulter.