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Supreme Court’s Decision to Send Landmark Case Back to Lower Court Underscores Urgent Need to Defend Washington’s Non-Discrimination Laws
March 6, 2017

The Supreme Court announced today that it would no longer hear the historic transgender rights case G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board. The case was slated to be heard on March 28, but instead will be sent back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, from which it originated.

Today’s decision is a direct result of the Trump Administration’s order from two weeks ago rescinding Department of Education guidance regarding whether Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects transgender students from discrimination. The Fourth Circuit had based its legal reasoning on that order, as well as precedent from other courts.

Seth Kirby, campaign chair of Washington Won’t Discriminate, the coalition working to protect Washington’s transgender non-discrimination laws, said the Supreme Court’s decision today means those protections are more important than ever:

“Washington State is now the 2017 battleground for transgender non-discrimination protections. All eyes will be on us as we decide whether we will hold true to our state’s values of fairness, equality, and freedom, or fall prey to scare tactics and fear mongering. The Evergreen State must lead the way for the rest of the country by showing that we will stand up against I-1552 and refuse to rollback the last 10 years of protection from discrimination for people like me and thousands more trangender students, friends, and family members.” —Seth Kirby, campaign chair of Washington Won’t Discriminate

As opponents of equality gather signatures for I-1552—a proposed ballot initiative that would repeal our state’s 11-year-old protections ensuring fair and equal treatment for transgender people, Washington was already poised to be a prominent battleground for transgender non-discrimination protections in 2017. But today’s announcement raises the stakes.

That’s because it does not actually change the fact that transgender students will continue to be protected from discrimination in Washington, under Title IX as well state laws that have been in place for more than 11 years. Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson have been clear on that fact.

However, opponents of equality are attempting to repeal the very protections that ensure transgender students in Washington aren’t discriminated against, which includes being allowed to use restrooms at their schools that align with the gender they live every day.

Repealing these protections would open transgender students up to bullying and harassment, as well as open Washington’s schools up to costly lawsuits. In fact, I-1552 would mandate that schools discriminate against transgender students—and would subject public schools across to costly lawsuits from any K-12 student, who has the ability to sue for a minimum for $5,000 every time they encounter a transgender student in a gender-segregated facility.

Washington has always led the way in ensuring respect for transgender students, and recent developments on the federal level underscore the urgent need for these comprehensive non-discrimination protections at the state level—protections that Washington must fight to keep.

If you’re concerned by today’s decision and want to make sure no one rolls back Washington’s long-standing protections for our transgender neighbors, family and friends, join our Decline to Sign campaign against I-1552. Click here to learn more and sign up.