Federal Court Rules Maryland Transgender Boy's Access to Restrooms and Locker Rooms that Align With His Gender Identity is Protected by Law
BALTIMORE, M.D. - The United States District Court for the District of Maryland ruled yesterday that transgender students' right to use the restroom and locker rooms in alignment with their gender identity is protected by federal and state law. In M.A.B. v. Board of Education of Talbot County, Max Brennan (M.A.B.), a boy who is transgender, was forced by Talbot County Public Schools policy to use separate restrooms and locker rooms because he is transgender. The ruling is the first decision of its kind in the state of Maryland, but joins a long list of decisions confirming that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, the federal statute prohibiting sex discrimination in educational settings, and the Constitution prohibit public schools from excluding students who are transgender from using the same facilities as their non-transgender peers. The ruling is also the first to hold that transgender people are protected under the Maryland state constitution.
The lawsuit was originally filed by FreeState Justice, and the ACLU and ACLU of Maryland subsequently joined as co-counsel.
"I am extremely happy with the court's decision, and think it is a great step in the right direction," said Brennan. "I am hopeful that this case will not only help change policy for the better, but help the students who are bound to come after me."
In his decision U.S. District Court Judge George L. Russell, III, explained, "M.A.B.'s claims come down to a boy asking his school to treat him just like any other boy. This Court finds that Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause provide M.A.B. grounds to do so."
"We hope this decision is a wake-up call for the Talbot County School Board" said Jennifer Kent, managing attorney with FreeState Justice. "School systems in Maryland should know the law and should be protecting students who are transgender from discrimination, not singling them out for separate and unequal treatment."
"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 on behalf of Max and other transgender students to ensure that these stigmatizing and harmful policies are a thing of the past."
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.