- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Urges Federal Court To Uphold Anti-Discrimination Protections for LGBTQ+ Americans
BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general in filing a brief in support of the rights of the more than 20 million LGBTQ+ Americans to live, work, and pursue education free from discrimination.
Under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, federal protections against sex-based discrimination necessarily guard against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in both schools and the workplace. However, a group of states, led by Tennessee, challenged recent guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a case currently before the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which seeks to undermine the established interpretation of the law and its protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“All Americans are deserving of fair and equal treatment,” said AG Healey. “We urge the Court to uphold these critical protections that help ensure our workplaces and schools are treating LGBTQ+ residents with respect and dignity.”
In the brief filed in Tennessee v. Department of Education, the coalition highlights the pervasive harms of such discrimination and urges the appellate court to reject this attack on LGBTQ+ rights.
Discrimination on the basis of sex against LGBTQ+ individuals is especially damaging in employment and education, the contexts addressed by the two guidance documents at issue in this appeal. When employees do not have legal protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — including protected equal access to bathrooms, the ability to dress consistent with their gender identities, and protection against pronoun misuse contributing to a hostile work environment — these employees and the states in which they live and work incur significant economic, physical and psychological harms.
The coalition of attorneys general discuss how states have a strong interest in ensuring that federal laws that protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination are recognized and enforced. The coalition states rely on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) to protect their residents, workers, and students from discrimination. The guidance documents at issue in this case correctly effectuate these statutes’ mandates, in turn making them more effective and of greater benefit to the states and their residents. The common experience of the coalition states shows that protecting LGBTQ+ residents, workers, and students from discrimination dramatically improves economic, psychological, health, employment, and educational outcomes for these individuals, yielding broad benefits, without compromising privacy or safety, or imposing significant costs.
This brief is a continuation of AG Healey’s ongoing advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. In August, AG Healey led a coalition of attorneys general in defending the constitutionality of Colorado’s public accommodations law in the U.S. Supreme Court against a challenge from a wedding website design business that wished to turn away same-sex couples. Also in August, the AG’s Office also joined an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s discriminatory “Don’t Say Gay” law that restricts the teaching and discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools. In May, AG Healey led a coalition of attorneys general to defend the constitutionality of New York’s anti-discrimination law, after a wedding photography business looked to deny services to LGBTQ+ couples.
In filing the amicus brief, which was led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, AG Healey joins the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.
A copy of the amicus brief is available here.