Google and Apple lead support for transgender student in legal brief

Some of the largest companies in the United States have signed a legal brief supporting the rights of a transgender student.

32 businesses, including Google, Apple, Microsoft and Spotify, have jointly signed an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

The brief sees the businesses pledge their support for Drew Adams, a transgender boy who was denied use of the boys’ restroom at his high school.

Drew Adams has been in a legal battle with the St. Johns County School Board of St. Augustine, Florida since 2017 claiming they had violated the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment.

Adams won his case in July 2018 after the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled that the school board had unlawfully discriminated against him.

At the time of winning his legal battle, Adams said that “it was upsetting to think my school didn’t want me because I am transgender, and I hope no one else has to feel like that.”

Since July 2018, the school district has appealed the decision to the 11th District Court of Appeals. The circuit is expected to hear the appeal sometime later this year.

Drew Adams (Lambda Legal)

Drew Adams (Lambda Legal)

“These leading businesses are standing up for the rights and dignity of transgender students”

The amicus brief, also known as a “friend of the court” brief, was filed on February 28th, 2019 by HRC and authored by BakerHostetler, a prominent law firm in the United States.

The 32 businesses to sign the brief, collectively representing roughly 1.36 million employees and $778 billion in revenue also include Airbnb, Tumblr, Ebay, IBM, Indiegogo and Deutsche Bank.

“At this critical moment in the fight for transgender equality, these leading businesses are standing up for the rights and dignity of transgender students,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.

The brief suggests that should the Middle District of Florida successfully appeal, it would “allow individual school districts, and indeed any other government entity, to do what the Board has done here – design and implement policies that discriminate against and stigmatize transgender children.”

It also argues the appeal could have detrimental effects on transgender employees of the 32 co-signed businesses and would disrupt their ability to maintain a diverse and inclusive workspace.

Transgender student Sorrel Rosin (R) poses with a friend February 25 2017 in Chicago as hundreds of transgender supporters protest against the Trump administration's reversal of federal protections of bathroom rights, warning it risked exposing young people to hate-fueled violence. Rosin, a high school student in Illinois, said Ive felt a spike in homophobia, transphobia, bigotry, misogyny in and out of school." / AFP / Derek R. HENKLE (Photo credit should read DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

Hundreds of transgender supporters protested in 2017 against the Trump administration’s reversal of federal protections of bathroom rights. (Getty)

“Policies that target transgender students for discrimination are dangerous and pose a serious risk to these businesses’ employees, their families and their customers. No student should wake in the morning fearful of bullying or discrimination during the school day ahead — and we thank these companies for their support of transgender young people like Drew Adams,” added Griffin.

“This brief underscores the ongoing commitment of major U.S. corporations and HRC to the fight for the full protection of the law for all individuals,” added BakerHostetler Partner Edward J. Jacobs.