Sixteen-year-old transgender high school student Max Brennan was recently banned from using the boys’ restrooms and locker rooms at his school in Maryland’s Talbott County Public School System. Determined to fight for his rights, Brennan challenged his school’s ban in a lawsuit, and reached a settlement in his favor this week.
Maryland District Judge George L. Russell III ruled that Title IX of 1972 Education Act, the federal statute barring sex discrimination in education, also prohibits bathroom discrimination against transgender students. According to the nonprofit advocacy organization, FreeState Justice, Judge Russell’s ruling sets a historic legal precedent for other transgender students battling discrimination in schools, with another court using his ruling to favor another transgender student’s legal battle in another state.
Incidents of school discrimination are far too common for transgender individuals, with some students simply refusing to use public restrooms out of fear of discrimination or harassment. State legislators all over the country are trying to pass anti-transgender bathroom laws, citing concerns for the safety of women and children, even though the people most likely to get harassed in a public bathroom are transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.
This week’s settlement in Maryland and its subsequent effect on other cases is a promising development in the fight for equality for transgender students.
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