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The Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court Case Is One Piece of a Much Larger Attack on LGBTQ Lives

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 11:00 -0400

It’s not about the cake. And it’s not about artistic expression. It’s about survival. This term the Supreme Court will hear a case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Charlie Craig & David Mullins, involving a Colorado bakery that refused to serve a same-sex couple who wanted to purchase a cake for their wedding reception. Colorado law prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodations — places like bakeries, movie theatres, restaurants, hospitals, and other establishments open to the public — based on sexual orientation, among other protected classes. The Colorado courts, interpreting this straightforward law, held that the bakery’s refusal to serve the couple constituted discrimination based on sexual orientation and that there is no constitutional right to discriminate that supersedes this protection. Now before the United States Supreme Court and supported by anti-LGBTQ groups, and the United States Department of Justice, the bakery argues that it has a First Amendment right to discriminate based on the owner’s religious beliefs. The owner also claims that because his business — making cakes — involves some creativity, he should be allowed to determine who can receive his services. His argument can be deceptively appealing. Cakes can often have artistic or creative designs. So can sandwiches, legal briefs, bicycles, cars, flowers, medical care. Indeed, the work that we do often has great personal meaning to us and reflects our skill and passion. But it is wrong to think that (1) any business that involves a creative component should be exempt from nondiscrimination laws, or (2) that a business is somehow endorsing each and every customer it serves. As civil rights attorney Mary Bonauto wrote in a recent piece for SCOTUSBlog: Earning a living from the sweat of one’s brow coexists with human creativity, with the passion for cutting hair or cooking food, with designing and sewing clothing – with making something both functional and beautiful. Uplifting the dignity and creativity in all work, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of the “street sweeper” who could “sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry.” To argue, as do Masterpiece Cakeshop and the Department of Justice in this case, that the exemption that would be created by a ruling for the business is narrow, is to ignore that reality. If we start to exempt from nondiscrimination laws businesses that reflect creativity and passion, such a move would undermine all nondiscrimination protections. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the organization defending the business at the Supreme Court, is taking great pains to frame this case as one about art and expression. It is using this tactic to gain support and obscure the fact that this case is part of a broader strategy to banish LGBTQ people from public life. This is not about cake. This is about demolishing the legal protections that exist against discrimination in places of public accommodation. Groups like ADF have already proposed and passed laws seeking to exempt from nondiscrimination protections any action that infringes upon an individual or businesses deeply held religious or moral belief that: “(a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and (c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.” I shudder at this final point since it means a moral or religious belief that trans people do not exist. And that is precisely what ADF and others have argued time and time again in litigation. In the past two years, they and others have advanced the arguments that it is “outlandish” for the federal government to protect transgender students from discrimination, that having a gender that does not accord with the gender assigned to a person at birth is a “delusion,” an[...]



Time Marches Forward and So Do We

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 11:30 -0400

Watch a short history of trans discrimination, resistance, and survival, and join the fight. Every day, I am confronted with antagonistic queries about why the ACLU would focus on trans rights work. “How many trans people are there really?” we are asked. Or, “Isn’t this just a new niche issue that doesn’t affect a lot of people?” The assumption is that trans existence is new, that trans people are so marginal as to be unworthy of advocacy, that discrimination against such a new and insignificant community should not consume our attention or resources. None of this is accurate. Trans people have always existed. And while we have and continue to face rampant and deadly discrimination, so too have we built beautiful communities and movements of resistance and love. A video released today by the ACLU in collaboration with Zackary Drucker, the Transparent producer and artist; Laverne Cox, the Emmy-nominated actress; and the creative team of Molly Crabapple, Kim Boekbinder and Jim Batt tells this story of trans history and resistance, which is as relevant and as urgent now as ever. %3Ciframe%20allowfullscreen%3D%22%22%20frameborder%3D%220%22%20height%3D%22326%22%20src%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2FN-lhWEVByZo%3Fautoplay%3D1%26version%3D3%22%20thumb%3D%22%2Ffiles%2Fweb17-timemarchesthumb-580x326.jpg%22%20width%3D%22580%22%3E%3C%2Fiframe%3E Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from youtube.com. Just two weeks ago, President Trump announced on Twitter that he wanted to reverse current policy and ban transgender individuals from military service. Meanwhile, continued legislative efforts in states like Texas seek to ban transgender individuals from public restrooms. The consequences of this discrimination from our government are deadly. In one comprehensive survey of more than 27,000 transgender individuals, almost one third of respondents reported living in poverty as compared with only 14 percent of the U.S. population. Over half of respondents reported being denied health care related to their gender transition. A quarter indicated that they did not seek medical attention at all due to fear of discrimination. And more than three-quarters reported experiencing harassment in school because they were trans, ultimately leading 17 percent of respondents to drop out of high school altogether. All of this contributes to a cycle of discrimination and violence that leads to homelessness, incarceration, and ultimately, for many — particularly trans women of color — premature death. Indeed, at least 15 trans people have been murdered in the country this year, almost all of them women of color. The numbers are likely higher, but violence against trans individuals so often goes unreported, or the victims are inaccurately classified by their assigned sex at birth. So while there is an increase in visibility and attention to trans people, the discrimination remains staggering. And without accurate information about trans people, our lives, and our rich histories, the impulse to push us out of public life will continue. But we continue to tell our vivid, vibrant, and critical story of trans resistance.Time marches forward, and so do we.[...]



Donald Trump Attacks Transgender People to Help Build Border Wall

Fri, 28 Jul 2017 13:30 -0400

In a nakedly political move, Trump endangers transgender soldiers to pay for wall with Mexico. Yesterday, following Trump’s wishes, House Republicans approved $1.6 billion in border wall funding. It’s off to the Senate now, where Democrats have said they will block it.The ACLU opposes construction of the wall because it furthers Trump’s draconian and discriminatory anti-immigrant agenda and puts the rights of people who live near the border in jeopardy. But a revelation made this move even more callous. Now we know that Trump's short-lived victory was the work of rank discrimination against patriotic transgender service members. This week, President Trump announced — in all but three tweets — that transgender people will be banned from military service. Despite Trump’s false claim that his pronouncement was the result of consultation with “my Generals” and concerns over spending, it has become obvious that sound policy had nothing to do with his reckless decision. A new report from Politico reveals that Trump decided to ban transgender service members as a way to secure funding for his proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Several House members planned to vote against the “minibus” spending bill, which determines the Pentagon’s spending and also includes $1.6 billion for Trump’s border wall, if it did not include an amendment to prohibit funding for transgender health care in the military. In an effort to appease his right flank, Trump — obsessed with the construction of a border wall — decided to not just target transgender health care but rather to issue a broad ban against all transgender people from serving in our Armed Forces. Trump did not consult with the Joint Chiefs of Staff before making the announcement, according to CNN, and one of “the heads of the military branches was informed by a staffer of the President's tweets on transgender policy and had no idea it was coming.” Trump did, however, consult his “faith advisers.” Secretary of Defense Mattis, who just three weeks ago proposed giving the Pentagon six more months to study the impact of transgender troops on military readiness, was on vacation at the time Trump made his Twitter pronouncements. Some military leaders, clueless that Trump was announcing a new policy on transgender service, reportedly worried that he was on the verge of tweeting a call for military strikes on North Korea. In fact, as of today, there is still no new official policy on transgender service in the military. Even White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders couldn’t offer any details on the status of the thousands of transgender service members. Trump didn’t only mislead the public when he said that the ban was the result of close consultation with military leaders, but he also pushed the false claim that spending on health services for transgender troops was too burdensome. While Trump cited the “tremendous medical costs” of transgender health care coverage in his tweet-storm, experts found that such expenses are minimal, and they are far less onerous than what the government spends on the president’s many trips to Mar-a-Lago or what the military spends on Viagra. Trump’s own staff also undermined the case that the discriminatory ban was intended to improve military readiness. One official bragged that the transgender ban was meant to help their party win key races in the midterm elections. While the military’s trans-inclusive policy “was crafted through a comprehensive and inclusive process” that involved military leaders, outside experts, medical professionals, and transgender service members, Trump’s discriminatory ban was dictated by tweet, rife with falsehoods, and done without significant consultation with members of the military. It appears that Trump will do whatever it takes to win financing for his ill-conceived and unwanted border wall, even if it means undercutting the military and denying thousands of patriotic transgender troops their r[...]



Jeff Sessions Thinks It Should Be Legal to Fire You for Being LGBT

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 11:15 -0400

If you thought Attorney General Sessions couldn’t be anymore anti-LGBT, last night he doubled down. In the latest and most significant anti-LGBT action yet from the Trump administration, the Justice Department last night filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit arguing that federal civil rights laws do not protect individuals from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The case in question concerns a former skydiving instructor who filed a lawsuit against his employer in 2010, alleging that the company terminated him because of his sexual orientation. This appalling brief from the Jeff Sessions-led Justice Department comes as the Second Circuit is preparing to hear arguments about whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, also prohibits discrimination against lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people — a position supported by, among many others, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which is based in Chicago, considered the same question. They ultimately ruled that discrimination against a person based on their sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination that is prohibited under Title VII. In writing for the court, Chief Judge Diane P. Wood noted that, “It would require considerable calisthenics to remove the ‘sex’ from ‘sexual orientation.’”[RK1] And yet these kinds of legal gymnastics are now exactly what the Justice Department is attempting to do. “It would require considerable calisthenics to remove the ‘sex’ from ‘sexual orientation.’” As if the Trump administration’s legal arguments in this case weren’t galling enough on their own, the fact that they are even weighing in at all in this case is noteworthy for how outrageous it is. The United States is not a party to the case, thus the administration cannot argue that its hand was forced. No, this is nothing more than a shameful effort on the part of a very anti-LGBT attorney general to advance discriminatory legal arguments. The question of whether Title VII prohibits gender identity-based discrimination — a position well-supported in case law — isn’t even before the court in this case. Rather, this case addresses the question of whether the federal law that prohibits employment discrimination based on sex also bars discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation. It is disgraceful that the Trump administration is working affirmatively to expose LGBT people to discrimination. Fortunately, the question of whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBT people is ultimately a question for the courts to resolve, not Attorney General Sessions. So while the Justice Department abdicates their responsibility to fight for and uphold our civil rights, we will continue to push forward.  The ACLU is confident that the law is in our side and that the courts will come to the right decision, just as the Seventh Circuit already has. And we’re prepared to continue this fight to make clear that discrimination against LGBT people is just another form of sex discrimination that is prohibited under federal civil rights laws.[...]



With Three Tweets President Trump Cruelly Threatens Trans Service Members With Rank Discrimination

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 12:00 -0400

Contrary to Trump’s assertions, the military has said that transgender troops promote readiness at no cost or disruption.

In a series of tweets this morning, President Donald Trump unexpectedly announced a cruel and dangerous reversal in policy on transgender individuals serving in the military. Claiming that “[o]ur military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory,” Trump falsely suggested that transgender individuals were too costly and disruptive to continue serving.

The announcement came as a surprise to everyone, including, it seems, the Pentagon.

Stop Trump’s Ban on Transgender Military Service

In fact, just a year ago, the Department of Defense ended the ban on open transgender service, explaining:

“This policy was crafted through a comprehensive and inclusive process that included the leadership of the Armed Services, medical and personnel experts across the Department, transgender Service members, outside medical experts, advocacy groups, and the RAND Corporation.”

Apparently that extensive work over many years and across many areas of expertise was reversed in a matter of minutes — over Twitter.

Indeed, contrary to Trump’s suggestion on Twitter, retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified in Congress just last week that inclusion of transgender individuals in the military promoted readiness and caused no disruption or cost. He explained that “[t]he military conducted a thorough research process on this issue and concluded that inclusive policy for transgender troops promotes readiness” and urged Congress “to respect the military’s judgment and not to breach the faith of service members who defend our freedoms.”

Congress ultimately rejected a proposal to ban health coverage for transgender servicemembers and dependents. As Mullen noted, “Thousands of transgender Americans are currently serving in uniform and there is no reason to single out these brave men and women and deny them the medical care that they require.”

This is not about cost. This is not about readiness or a strong military. Today’s announcement is about targeting, demonizing, and endangering a group of people who are risking their lives every day for our country.

To the thousands of trans people currently serving in the military and to the thousands more who love and support them, we will not stop fighting. If the military reverses its existing policies protecting trans service members in response to the president’s tweets, the ACLU is ready to act.

Contact us if you want to explore your options.




Lawmakers in Texas Are Returning to the Capitol for More Anti-Trans Discrimination

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 15:00 -0400

The lives of transgender people are at stake as Texas convenes their special legislative session. In Texas, transgender young people and their families have become accustomed to sustained attacks on their basic humanity. Throughout the last legislative session, which concluded in May with most of the anti-trans bills failing to pass, trans Texans and their loved ones traveled to the capitol in Austin from across the state to plea for decency, justice, and the basic opportunity to participate in public life. When SB6, the sweeping anti-trans bill modeled after North Carolina’s infamous HB2, was heard before a Senate committee in March, hundreds of bill opponents flocked to the capitol to speak out against the measure, which did nothing more than demonize transgender Texans. The hearing lasted through the night and despite the heartfelt testimony from trans people and their families, the measure passed out of the committee 8-1 and went on to clear the Senate floor. The bill then died in the House despite the relentless efforts of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to get an anti-trans bill heard on the House floor. Now Texas lawmakers will return to Austin on Tuesday, July 18, to begin a 30-day special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott to, among other things, attempt to pass the anti-transgender legislation that failed to pass during the regular session. Proponents of these anti-trans measures, like SB6 champion Sen. Lois Kolkhorst claim that they are designed to “find the balance of privacy, decency, respect, and dignity, to protect women, children, and all people.” But they do nothing to serve privacy and safety. They do not protect anyone’s dignity. Rather they compromise the dignity of transgender people, gender non-conforming people, and the people who care for and love us. As hundreds of domestic violence and sexual assault organizations explained in a public statement opposing these anti-trans measures last year, “discriminating against transgender people does nothing to decrease the risk of sexual assault.” The statement went on to “oppose any law that would jeopardize the safety of transgender people by forcing them into restrooms that do not align with the gender they live every day.” The organizations also made it clear that as advocates committed to violence prevention, they could not “stand by while the needs of survivors, both those who are transgender and those who are not, are obscured in order to push a political agenda that does nothing to serve and protect victims and potential victims.” And while lawmakers continue to push this political agenda, transgender youth continue to be targeted, transgender women of color continue to be killed, and our communities continue to be decimated by the consequences of legitimizing a debate over our humanity. In a viral video from Texas, Ken Ballard spoke about his support for his son, who is transgender. “Was I going to be his bully?” he asks. “Was I going to try to put him back in a box that fit the rules of my world at the time?” After his son attempted suicide, Ballard understood that he had a choice between loving and supporting a joyful and happy son or grieving a dead daughter. He chose to love his son. He chose to celebrate his beautiful son. After all, he reflected, “I didn’t have this kid to fulfill my dreams. I had this kid to help him realize his.” And the lives and dreams of our children are at stake. Transgender young people experience epidemically high rates of suicidality, and over 40 percent of transgender people have attempted suicide at some point in our lives. This is life or death. In a recent New Yorker article, Texas’s Republican House Speaker Joe Straus said of these sustained attacks on transgender people: “I’m disgusted by all this. Tell the lieutenant governor I don’t want the suicide of a single Texan on my hands.” It is as simple and as dire as that. There can be n[...]



Congress Should Reject This Unconstitutional Amendment Denying Care to Transgender Service Members and Their Families

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 11:45 -0400

Our troops deserve support not discrimination from members of Congress. Update: Victory! The Hartzler Amendment was defeated: 214 No, 209 Yes. The House of Representatives is poised to vote today on an amendment to prohibit transgender military service members and military dependents from receiving appropriate medical care. The amendment — introduced by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) to the National Defense Authorization Act, which is the annual defense policy bill — bars the Department of Defense from providing funds towards medical treatment “related to gender transition,” such as hormone therapy. Hartzler previously offered an amendment — since withdrawn — that would stop the military from enlisting transgender members. This amendment targets health care services that the nation’s leading medical institutions, including the American Medical Association, agree are medically appropriate and necessary for transgender individuals. The ACLU is sending a letter to the House today to vote against this discriminatory and unconstitutional amendment. The letter highlights the fact that denying access to care runs counter to scientific evidence and contemporary medical standards. It puts the wellbeing of certain service members at risk, undermining the ability of doctors in the military to adequately care for their patients. Despite the suggestion that this is just an attempt to reduce spending, the Hartzler amendment is discriminatory, plain and simple. Hartzler made her hostility to transgender people clear when she compared transgender service members to members of ISIS, describing them as a “domestic threat.” She also wrongly — and absurdly — claimed that transition-related care would cost over $1 billion. Last year, the military officially ended its ban on transgender service, although under the Trump administration it has delayed its acceptance of openly transgender applicants. According to the Williams Institute, there are over 15,000 transgender individuals serving in active duty or in the Guards or Reserves, and “an estimated 134,000 transgender individuals are veterans or are retired from Guard or Reserve service.” Transgender troops deserve our respect and support. Congress should reject this cruel and unwarranted attempt to deny necessary care to transgender Americans and harm those serving our country.[...]



Anti-LGBT Forces in Congress Are Giving Trump Very Bad Advice

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 17:15 -0400

And if he takes their advice, we’ll see him in court.

Several dozen Republican members of the House of Representatives are urging President Trump to issue an unconstitutional executive order that would authorize wide-ranging, taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBT people, women, and religious minorities.

A draft of the EO that leaked earlier this year would allow federal employees, contractors, and grantees a “reasonable accommodation” to act pursuant to their beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman; that gender identity is fixed at or before birth; and that human life begins at conception while on the job and interacting with the public or providing taxpayer-funded services. This means, for example, a doctor working for the Department of Veterans Affairs could refuse to prescribe hormones to a transitioning transgender veteran based on the doctor’s belief that a person’s gender identity cannot differ from the sex they were assigned at birth.

It’s telling that out of nearly 240 Republicans in the House, a mere 51 signed this letter. (Eighteen Republicans out of 52 joined a similar letter in the Senate). As we have repeatedly made clear, the ACLU will not hesitate to challenge this discriminatory EO should it be signed.

For President Trump to stand any chance at following through on his campaign promise to be a “real friend” to the LGBT community, he cannot follow fringe, anti-LGBT extremists down this ill-advised path of licensing discrimination under the guise of religious liberty. Those representatives advocating for this EO in Congress are urging a return to a discriminatory past, and they are a minority even among very conservative House Republicans.

Just last year, 43 House Republicans voted in favor of an amendment that reaffirmed a 2014 executive order from President Obama that prohibited businesses that contract with the federal government from discriminating against LGBT people. Upon taking office, the Trump administration made clear that it would keep these nondiscrimination requirements on federal contractors in place. And yet these protections could be completely undermined through this proposed EO.

Among the many prominent voices who have urged President Trump to reject this discriminatory EO is former Republican U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming.

Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental national values — and something the ACLU fights for every day. But it does not give anyone the right to impose their beliefs on others, to harm others, or to discriminate. President Trump would be well served by listening to the advice of Sen. Simpson and other conservatives who recognize that discrimination against people based on who they are or whom they love must be rejected.




With North Carolina, the NBA, and the NCAA Caving on Trans Rights, Texas Finds New Momentum for Discrimination

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 13:30 -0400

Texas legislators are seizing on the NCAA and NBA’s openness to doing business again in North Carolina to discriminate. Last month, North Carolina lawmakers passed what they called a “compromise repeal” of the state’s notoriously costly and discriminatory anti-LGBT law, House Bill 2. HB2 mandated statewide discrimination against trans people in schools and other government buildings and restricted the ability of localities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances protecting against sexual orientation and gender-identity-based discrimination. But the HB2 replacement, House Bill 142, is no repeal — it is just a slightly restructured version of the same discriminatory mandates of its predecessor and once again singles out trans people for discrimination in both rhetoric and law. Shortly after the passage of this fake repeal of HB2, both the NCAA and the NBA announced that they would again consider North Carolina to host events after they had pulled events from the state in 2016 — costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue — following the passage of HB2. Showing just how quickly the defense of civil rights collapsed in the name of profit, the NBA and the NCAA have now further opened the door to new waves of discrimination in North Carolina and across the country. Wasting no time, leading anti-trans lawmakers in Texas are now rushing to pass a clone of North Carolina’s HB142 — seizing on the tacit, if not explicit endorsement, of discrimination by the NCAA and NBA. The Texas bill, House Bill 2899, is expected to be heard on Wednesday, April 19. And like its clone in North Carolina, and the bill once again animated by the dangerous lie that it “provides clear direction to public schools and government institutions on how to protect privacy and safety by ensuring that men do not enter women's showers, locker rooms and restrooms.”  But make no mistake — this bill protects no one. Texas’s HB2899 and SB6 — the HB2-like ban on trans people using restrooms that accord with their gender — and North Carolina’s HB142 are not about privacy or safety. These measures are about cultivating fear of trans people in public space, and they ultimately seek to expel us from participation in public life. The proposed laws and the support for them rely on and reinforce the idea that women who are trans are “really” men and that trans people, by living as our authentic selves, are deceiving others.  And the subtext is always that our mere presence in single-sex spaces compromises the safety and privacy of others.But this is simply not true. Most of these lawmakers have already shared restrooms with trans people, and it went unnoticed because like all people, we (trans) people go to the restroom to do our business and get out. The only people who seem fixated on our presence there are the lawmakers seeking to bar us from the spaces we have been using for as long as we have existed. And whether North Carolina, Texas, or any other state uses overt or covert tactics to restrict us from using the restroom that accords with who we are, the effect is the same and the message is clear: “You are not welcome here.” In December of 2016, Roy Cooper, then governor-elect of North Carolina, rejected a proposed repeal of HB2 that was far less discriminatory than the fake repeal he signed last month. Nothing changed in the meaning of the law or the dignity of trans people. All that changed was that Cooper, the NCAA, the NBA grew tired of defending civil rights while profits waned. Well, you know what is far more exhausting than holding a principled line against discrimination? Living under relentless discrimination and the demonization of your existence. That is happening to trans people in North Carolina, in Texas, and across the country. And the costs are dire as trans women of colo[...]



My Son’s School Supported His Transition, and It Has Made All the Difference in the World. Now It’s Being Sued.

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 11:45 -0400

A mom of a transgender student thanks her son’s high school for treating him with the respect and dignity he deserves.

The day I read that my children’s school district was getting sued over the fact that they allow transgender boys to use the restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity rocked my world.

I would like every person reading this blog to think about the moment they gave birth to or adopted a child. If you are a committed parent like me, you immediately had immense love and vivid dreams for that child. Hopefully you had a conversation with yourself that you would love that person unconditionally and without hesitation. When that magical moment happened in your life, when that person was placed in your arms, someone informed you that person was either female or male. 

You believed them, didn’t you? Of course you did. We all do.

Now imagine that as that child grows up, you realize things aren’t the way you projected them to be.

I have a transgender son. When he informed me of this, I knew I had some work to do. I had to educate myself. I didn’t know anyone who was transgender. Sure, I heard of it before, but I didn’t have a personal contact. So off to the Internet I went to read up on what I had to do to help my son. 

There I learned about the high suicide rate and the discrimination he may face. I was scared. I did not want to lose my child. So I made the decision to support and love him no matter what.

The thought of school frightened me. I was afraid of what he would face in school.  What would teachers say? What would his friends say? What supports would be in place to ensure his safety? 

He asked me to homeschool him, but instead I suggested we meet with the school. Thankfully, Boyertown counselors and administration met with us and told us that they would work with us every step of the way. I was relieved to know that my son attended an affirming public high school. They have worked very closely with my son and I throughout his high school career, affirming and supporting him every step of the way. 

My son’s transition has not been automatic and quick. This has been a five-year process since his announcement to me — but an entire lifetime for him. Attending a public high school like Boyertown has been the highlight of the last three years. Knowing that he can use the men’s restroom and locker room and  that his teachers will use the correct name and pronouns made all the difference in the world. My son walks the halls of Boyertown High School proudly being his genuine self. He was on the Homecoming Court, and he finally got to run in a boy’s cross country meet.

When you click on the Boyertown website, you see the words, “To enable all students to succeed in a changing world.” Boyertown lives by this statement. Our world is changing and people are becoming more comfortable with who they are, regardless of what others think.

This is as it should be. 

One of Boyertown High school’s jobs is to help prepare our children to be respectful, responsible, productive citizens. This is exactly what they are doing when they affirm all types of students. With the ACLU’s help, we’re seeking intervention in the lawsuit against our school district because my son deserves a chance to defend himself, and because his school should not be punished for doing the right thing. The school deserves a medal, not a lawsuit.