Tech Cos., Verizon Tell Court to Preserve Transgender Protections

Tumblr parent Verizon has joined with major computer companies and edge providers--Apple, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, and others--to back transgender access to public school restrooms.

That came in an amicus brief filed in a court challenge to the St. Johns County (Fla.) School Board decision to restrict such access.

The appeal of that decision is being heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

They said they were filing the appeal because they all "have an interest in supporting and defending public policies that protect civil rights and foster acceptance and equal treatment for all their employees, their customers, and the families of both."

None of the companies are parties to the suit. Amicus briefs allow outside parties to make arguments for or against to help the court make the decision (thus the "amicus" label, which means friend). The weight of many amici on one side of the judicial scale also gives the court a sense of the "range" of support, as the parties point out (other amici on the filing include Kaiser Permanente. Levi Strauss, and Baker Hostetler, the firm familiar in communications circles that is also representing the amici.

While they may not be parties, they say the restriction will have an adverse impact on their "business, employees and stakeholders.

"[T]he Policy of St. Johns County School Board undermines Proposed Amici’s ability to build and maintain diverse and inclusive workplaces," they told the court.

"Beyond the economic and other practical benefits that LGBT-friendly policies foster, Amici’s policies of diversity and inclusion reflect their core values, and Amici believe that treating transgender people with the dignity and respect they deserve is simply the right thing to do. Amici reject policies like the Policy, which needlessly discriminate according to gender identity," they said.

"All Amici have nondiscrimination policies or practices that permit transgender individuals to use company facilities consistent with their gender identity—policies that Amici adopted out of respect for the dignity, autonomy, and privacy of their transgender employees and/or customers and also because Amici know that diversity and inclusion are good for business. None of these policies has resulted in an increase in sexual assaults or incidents of the kind invoked by the Board. To the contrary, Amici find that their policies contribute to a work environment that promotes collaboration, creativity, and productivity."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.