Rutledge Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Protect Students’ Privacy Rights

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January 11, 2017

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined a bi-partisan coalition of 23 states, led by West Virginia, filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court urging the protection of the privacy rights of all students.

In Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., the school board argues that the definition of one’s biological sex in Title IX regulations, which prohibits discrimination on that basis, does not include gender identity.

In 2015, Gloucester High School constructed multiple, single stall, unisex restrooms to better accommodate privacy needs for students and for those who choose not to use the facility that corresponds to their biological sex. The transgender student who is suing the school board was given the options of using the restroom corresponding to his/her biological sex, a private facility or a unisex restroom.

“The Department of Education has for decades maintained that Title IX allows school districts to separate bathroom and shower facilities on the basis of sex,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This is not done to be discriminatory; rather it is to protect students in those facilities. Local schools must continue to have the authority to provide reasonable, dignified, respectful solutions for all students, including those who are transgendered, which is exactly what the Gloucester School District did.”

This case predated the Obama Administration’s May 2016 letter that said Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination includes gender identity and that students can use the intimate facility of their choice, regardless of their biological sex. Rutledge and Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson led a 10-state coalition challenging the letter. In August, a U.S. District Judge issued a nationwide injunction in a similar case brought by Texas, prohibiting the Obama administration from enforcing a directive on public schools across the country to open gender-specific bathrooms and locker rooms to both sexes.

Rutledge had urged the Supreme Court in September to take this case, which will help determine if federal agencies may, without congressional approval, require public school systems to open gender-specific bathrooms and locker rooms to both sexes or threaten a loss of funding.

Along with Arkansas and West Virginia, this brief is signed by attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, as well as the Governors of Kentucky and Maine.

About Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Leslie Carol Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. She is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected to the office. Since taking office, she has begun a Mobile Office program, a Military and Veterans Initiative, a Metal Theft Prevention program and a Cooperative Disability Investigations program. She has led efforts to teach Internet safety, combat domestic violence and make the office the top law firm for Arkansans. Rutledge also serves on the Executive Committee of the Republican Attorneys General Association and re-established and co-chairs the National Association of Attorneys General Committee on Agriculture.

A native of Batesville, she is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Rutledge clerked for the Arkansas Court of Appeals, was Deputy Counsel for Gov. Mike Huckabee, served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Lonoke County and subsequently was an Attorney at the Department of Human Services before serving as Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Rutledge and her husband, Boyce, have a home in Pulaski County and a farm in Crittenden County.