As Supreme Court case nears, tech takes a stand for transgender rights

Many of tech’s largest and most powerful companies have signed an amicus brief in support of transgender student Gavin Grimm as the first case on transgender rights makes its way to the highest court in the land later this month.

Following the news that Apple was drumming up interest in such a brief, a full list reveals 54 U.S. companies have signed on to date. The amicus brief, authored by law firm BakerHostetler, argues in support of 17-year-old plaintiff Gavin Grimm, a transgender Virginia high school student who alleges that his school board violated Title IX when it denied him access to the boy’s restroom at his school.

Apple in particular took initiative in mobilizing the technology community around the upcoming Supreme Court case, working with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to reach out to potential signatories and securing their commitments to signing on. The “friend of the court” brief is dominated by well-known names in tech, but includes some names beyond the industry, including clothing retailer The Gap, eyewear designer Warby Parker and homewares store Williams-Sonoma.

Last week, many tech companies were openly critical of the Trump administration’s decision to rescind guidance that instructed schools to allow trans students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity.

“We invest in the practice of inclusive diversity to ensure we are supporting and incorporating the broadest set of perspectives throughout our corporate community,” said Yahoo’s Global Head of Inclusive Diversity Margenett Moore-Roberts, in a comment on Yahoo and Tumblr’s decision to join the brief. “As part of this philosophy, we stand with Gavin and all transgender people seeking equality.”

“These companies are sending a powerful message to transgender children and their families that America’s leading businesses have their backs,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement on the brief. “Across the country, corporate leaders are speaking out because they know attacking transgender youth isn’t just shameful — it also puts the families of their employees and customers at risk. Transgender students like Gavin are entitled to the full protection of the law, and must be affirmed, respected and protected in the classroom and beyond.”

As some have noted, Google and Facebook remain notably absent from the brief. Both companies spoke out on transgender student protections last week and both also signed onto opposition for so-called state level “bathroom bills,” including North Carolina’s HB2 and SB6 in Texas.

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