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US appeals court upholds Florida’s transgender toilet policy

LGBTQ groups say transgender people face increasing threats of violence and discrimination in the United States.

A United States federal appeals court has approved a Florida high school’s policy barring transgender high school students from using the bathrooms of their chosen identity.

On Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled in a seven-to-four decision that the policy, instituted by a school board in St Johns County, Florida, did not violate the Equal Protection Clause. the US Constitution or federal civil rights law.

“This is an aberrational ruling that contradicts the rulings of all the other circuits to consider the issue across the country,” said Tara Borelli, an attorney with the LGBTQ civil rights organization Lambda Legal, which was involved in the case. “We will review and evaluate this dangerous decision over the weekend.”

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The ruling is a victory for conservatives who have sought to impose strict conceptions of gender in institutions across the country. In May, Oklahoma became the latest state to enact the so-called “bathroom bill,” which requires public school students to use bathrooms, locker rooms and showers that correspond to the sex indicated on their birth certificate.

LGBTQ groups have fought back, accusing lawmakers of stirring up fear and resentment against transgender people. Lambda Legal also challenges the Oklahoma law in federal court.

St Johns County policy also required transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding to the biological sex they were assigned at birth instead of their chosen identity.

The policy was challenged in 2017 by Drew Adams, a transgender man who was not allowed to use the men’s bathroom as a student at Allen D Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

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US President Joe Biden’s administration had urged the circuit court to strike down the rule, but the court voted to uphold it. Six of the seven majority justices were appointed by former Republican President Donald Trump, who struck down protections for transgender people during his tenure.

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States and local jurisdictions in the US have continued to implement policies that critics say discriminate against transgender people, including legislation that would prohibit transgender youth from participating in sports teams and competitions that correspond to their transgender identity. gender.

Earlier this month, a lawsuit was also filed against the US state of Georgia, alleging that the state’s health insurance policy illegally discriminates by refusing to pay for gender-affirming healthcare.

“Exclusion communicates to transgender people and the public that their state government considers them unworthy of equal treatment,” the lawsuit argues.

LGBTQ people in the US have expressed concern that heated rhetoric directed at them by conservative figures has contributed to a combustible environment and a “hate epidemic.”

Right-wing groups, sometimes including members of armed militias, have protested against drag shows across the United States. In Boston, a children’s hospital that offers gender-affirming medical treatment has faced numerous bomb threats. And a gunman attacked an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado last month, killing five people and wounding at least 17 others.

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In December, Biden signed legislation protecting same-sex marriage rights amid concerns that the country’s Supreme Court, which has a sizable conservative majority, could reverse protections previously granted to LGBTQ people.

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“This law and the love it stands for strikes a blow against hate in all its forms, and that is why this law is important to all Americans, no matter who they are and who they love,” Biden said at the signing ceremony.

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