July 20, 2021

Friend of the Court Briefs Defend the “Model Policies for Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools”

Arlington, Va.—On July 21, oral arguments will be heard in Lynchburg in two cases designed to prevent equal access to public education for students who are transgender. Metro DC PFLAG and Whitman-Walker Health have joined the call to stop this attack on the rights of children who are transgender and have filed a 15-page amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in their defense.

“As PFLAG parents whose children attended public school in Virginia, we support the Department of Education in defending the Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students. Our schools should implement policies that will help Virginia students be their best,” said Gerda and Allen Keiswetter, Metro DC PFLAG Parents.

Earlier this year, Virginia Department of Education, pursuant to state law, issued Model Policies for Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools. This long-needed action has been challenged in state courts by anti-LGBTQ+ groups who seek to prevent the model policies from being implemented by asking for what is known as “injunctive relief.” The Department of Education, through the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, is vigorously defending the new model policies. 

​“Young people who are transgender or nonbinary, or who are exploring their gender identity, are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and bias in public school settings, and urgently need acceptance and protection,” said Daniel Bruner, Whitman-Walker’s Senior Director of Policy. “Virginia’s Model Policies are a major step forward, and it is critical to protect young gender-expansive people from attacks based on ignorance, fear and hostility.” 

The brief filed by Metro DC PFLAG and Whitman-Walker Health, prepared pro bono by the law firm Cooley LLP, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Lambda Legal, explains the need for the model policies and presents to the court the uniform and widely-accepted medical and mental health research supporting them. 

“The Metro DC PFLAG and Whitman-Walker Health brief demonstrates the power of affirmation, especially in school environments, in improving outcomes for transgender and gender-nonconforming youth. When schools provide supportive and affirming environments for transgender and gender-nonconforming youth, those youth are more likely to flourish,” said Metro DC PFLAG Virginia Advocacy Chair Phil Hicks.

PFLAG Metro DC also helped facilitate the filing of another amicus curiae brief filed by Equality Virginia, the American Civil Liberties Union, and joined by other PFLAG chapters in Virginia. This brief, prepared pro bono by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC, presented individual family stories supporting the Model Policies.

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ABOUT METRO DC PFLAG

Metro DC PFLAG is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, volunteer organization founded in 1983 and oversees sixteen (16) PFLAG Community Groups across Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. As a chapter of PFLAG, we strive to promote the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons and their families and friends through support, education, and advocacy to end discrimination and secure equal rights. Learn more at PFLAGDC.org.

ABOUT WHITMAN-WALKER

Whitman-Walker operates a community-centered enterprise that provides primary medical care, behavioral health care, dental care, and a range of health-related legal and support services, with specialties in LGBTQ+ and HIV care, to more than 20,000 individuals and families annually in the greater Washington, DC metropolitan region. Whitman-Walker empowers all persons to live healthy, love openly and achieve equality and inclusion through care, advocacy, research and education. Learn more about Whitman-Walker at www.whitmanwalkerimpact.org.

Phil Hicks, Virginia Advocacy Chair, Metro DC PFLAG
202-638-3852
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