Federal Judge in Maryland Rules for Transgender Students’ Dignity and Against School’s Discriminatory PolicyBy Adam Polaski • March 16, 2018 • 1:48 pm
On Monday, March 12 a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ruled in favor of a transgender student, Max Brennan. The case, M.A.B. v. Board of Education of Talbot County, challenges Talbot County Public Schools’ policy of forcing transgender students to use separate locker rooms because of their gender identity, rather than allowing transgender boys to use the boys’ room and transgender girls to use the girls’ room. The case was filed by FreeState Justice, with the ACLU and ACLU of Maryland serving as co-counsel.
The order on March 12, courtesy of Equality Case Files, denies the school’s Motion to Dismiss the case, keeping the challenge alive by determining that M.A.B. is permitted to seek protection on the grounds of Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause. The order also denies without prejudice plaintiffs’ request for a Preliminary Injunction, explaining that since the student does not have physical education class until September, there is no immediate harm and need for an immediate block to the policy. If no final decision on the merits is reached before September, the plaintiff may renew the request for a preliminary injunction.
U.S. District Court Judge George L. Russell, III wrote: “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.”
FreeState Justice notes that this is the first decision of its kind issued in Maryland – and it is also the first to determine that transgender people are protected under the Maryland state constitution.
The plaintiff, Max Brennan, said:
“I am extremely happy with the court’s decision, and think it is a great step in the right direction. 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.”
Jennifer Kent, managing attorney with FreeState Justice, added:
“We hope this decision is a wake-up call for the Talbot County School Board. 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.”
The decision this week adds to the growing case law that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bans discrimination based on sex, also prohibits discrimination based on gender identity.
In May 2017 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit issued a first-of-its-kind decision in theWhitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District case, finding that anti-transgender discrimination amounted to sex discrimination. Similar to Judge Russell’s ruling, the appellate court also found that the school district’s policy barring Ash, a transgender man, from using the men’s restroom at school, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Learn more about where LGBTQ non-discrimination stands in the courts. And read about many pending cases in Freedom for All Americans’ Litigation Tracker.