FreeState Justice, ACLU Reach Settlement with Talbot County Public Schools for Max Brennan, who was Prevented from Using the Boys' Restrooms and Locker Rooms Because He is Transgender
BALTIMORE, MD. - Following the United States District Court for the District of Maryland's historic ruling in this case, the parties in M.A.B. v. Board of Education of Talbot County have now reached a settlement. Sixteen-year-old high school student Max Brennan was forced to file suit when Talbot County Public Schools barred him from the boys' restrooms and locker rooms simply because he is transgender. In March 2018, Judge George L. Russell III, in denying the defendants' motion to dismiss the case, ruled that students who are transgender cannot be barred from sex-segregated school restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity under Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 (the federal statute barring sex discrimination in education) as well as federal and state constitutional protections. The decision was the first of its kind in Maryland, and one of the first anywhere to hold that a school district could not exclude a student who is transgender from its locker rooms.
Judge Russell's ruling has already made an impact in other jurisdictions. Just last month, in Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia found Judge Russell's opinion persuasive in ruling that Gavin Grimm had similarly stated claims for relief under Title IX and the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment against his school district for being denying access to the boys' restroom.
"Bringing this lawsuit has been a long journey that I hope will be able to help other transgender students in the future." said Brennan. "I couldn't be happier with how everything turned out and I am extremely hopeful for the future."
"Though today's case is over, Max's bravery continues to ensure that students who are transgender are protected under the law." said Jennifer Kent, managing attorney with FreeState Justice. "Because of Max, Maryland school districts are now on notice that subjecting students who are transgender to separate and unequal treatment is illegal, pure and simple."
"Courts across the country have recognized that Title IX and the Constitution prohibit schools from singling out transgender students for different and discriminatory treatment," said Josh Block, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. "We will continue to fight alongside transgender students to ensure that all students have the opportunity to fully participate in their school and get a quality education."
The settlement agreement is a resolution of the parties' claims without any finding of liability. However, in the agreement the defendants "acknowledge the likelihood of liability in light of the Court's Memorandum Opinion and Order dated March 12, 2018." Under the settlement agreement, Max will have permanent access to restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities owned and/or operated by the Board of Education that are otherwise designated for boys or men.
Costs and attorneys' fees were resolved by separate agreement.
All media inquiries should be directed to Jennifer Kent, Managing Attorney, FreeState Justice 410-625-5428 ext. 13.
FreeState Justice, Inc. (formerly FreeState Legal Project, Inc., merging with Equality Maryland) is a social justice organization that works through direct legal services, legislative and policy advocacy, and community engagement to enable Marylanders across the spectrum of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer identities to be free to live authentically, with safety and dignity, in all communities throughout our state.
ACLU of Maryland was founded in 1931 and works to ensure that all people in the state of Maryland are free to think and speak as they choose and can lead their lives free from discrimination and unwarranted government intrusion. The organization has worked for decades to advance LGBT rights in Maryland through litigation, legislative advocacy, and public education.
Founded in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union is the nation's premier guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States. The ACLU brought its first LGBT rights case in 1936 and the ACLU LGBT Project was founded in 1986. Today, the ACLU brings more LGBT cases and advocacy initiatives than any other national organization does.