As you know, the attacks against LGBTQ+ people and everybody living with HIV have been relentless this year. As these discriminatory and cruel bills pass in states across the country, Lambda Legal’s tenacious attorneys are in the courts fighting this hate and bigotry every step of the way.
With so many cases currently being litigated, challenging laws ranging from Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law to bans on gender-affirming care for trans youth to prohibitions on the use of Medicaid to pay for medically necessary health care for low-income trans adolescents and adults, we wanted to send you an update on where many of our most pressing cases stand.
–Dekker v. Weida: After two weeks and the testimony of over 20 expert and factual witnesses, the trial has concluded in our lawsuit challenging Florida’s ban on Medicaid coverage of gender-affirming medical care for transgender Floridians. The case, brought alongside Florida Health Justice Project, National Health Law Program, Southern Legal Counsel, and the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, challenges not just last year’s rule prohibiting such coverage but also the new prohibition on state funding for gender-affirming care enacted as part of SB 254, signed into law last week. A ruling is expected in the near future.
In addition, the same court will be deciding the constitutionality of the rest of SB 254, which bans the provision of gender-affirming care for trans youth, based on the trial record we built in Dekker v. Weida. That companion case (Doe v. Ladapo) was brought separately by some of our partners.
–Cousins v. School Board of Orange County: Working with Southern Legal Counsel, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and pro bono counsel Baker McKenzie, we are challenging Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law that censors discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-12 and bars it altogether for grades K-3 (recently expanded to Grade 8 by an amendment effective this summer) We will continue our challenge to the law as amended and are awaiting a ruling from the court on our motion for a preliminary injunction.
–Southampton Community Healthcare v. Bailey: Together with the ACLU of Missouri and the law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, we filed a lawsuit and obtained a temporary restraining order against the emergency rule issued by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, imposing extreme and unprecedented restrictions on healthcare for all transgender Missourians. Following the issuance of the order in our case and after the Missouri Legislature passed SB49, banning evidence-based gender-affirming medical care for Missouri trans adolescents, Bailey announced he was terminating the rule. We are now evaluating the next steps, including legal action, to fight back against Missouri’s latest attack.
–PFLAG v. Abbott; Doe v. Abbott: Texas Gov. Abbott and AG Ken Paxton last year launched an effort to classify scientifically proven health care for Texas transgender youth as child abuse, directing the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to start investigations of parents alleged to be providing such care for their children. Together with the ACLU, ACLU of Texas, and co-counsel Baker Botts LLP, we succeeded in getting that extreme policy blocked in court while the case proceeds.
-SB14: In the interim, the Texas Legislature considered a record number of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills and passed SB14, another ban on necessary healthcare for Texas transgender youth. We have pledged, in partnership with the ACLU, the ACLU of Texas, and the Transgender Law Center, to challenge that ban in court. Trans youth deserve the support and care necessary to give them the same chance to thrive as their peers. We will keep fighting for trans youth in Texas just as we have in states across the country against this anti-science and discriminatory fear-mongering.
–Poe v. Drummond: Together with ACLU, ACLU Oklahoma, and the law firm Jenner & Block LLP, we filed a challenge to SB613, the Oklahoma law signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt that would prohibit medical care for transgender youth. Last week, we entered into a binding agreement with the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office to not enforce SB 613 while our motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to further block enforcement of the law is pending. With this non-enforcement agreement, transgender youth will continue to have access to medically necessary evidence-based care for gender dysphoria and medical providers will not need to live in fear of providing necessary health care to their patients.
–Bridge v. Oklahoma State Department of Education: Meanwhile, our challenge, also with the ACLU and ACLU of Oklahoma, to the state law preventing Oklahoma public and charter school students from using the correct school facilities remains pending, with both our motion for preliminary injunction and the state’s motion to dismiss the case fully briefed and awaiting rulings.
–van Garderen v. State of Montana: Together with the ACLU, ACLU-Montana, and co-counsel Perkins Coie, we’re fighting alongside two families with transgender youth and two medical providers who work with transgender youth to challenge SB 99. Signed by Governor Gianforte last month, SB 99 bans the only evidence-based care for gender dysphoria for transgender people under 18. The plaintiffs charge the law with violating their rights under the Montana Constitution, including their right to equal protection and the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.
–L.W. v. Skrmetti: With the ACLU, ACLU of Tennessee, and Akin Gump, we are challenging Public Chapter No. 1, Tennessee’s total ban on the provision of often life-saving medical care to transgender and nonbinary youth in the state. The legal advocates are suing Tennessee on behalf of Samantha and Brian Williams and their 15-year-old transgender daughter, two other plaintiff families filing anonymously, and Memphis-based medical doctor Dr. Susan Lacy.
–L.E. v. Lee: On behalf of Luc Esquivel and his parents, we are also challenging Tennessee’s ban on transgender youth participating with their peers in interscholastic sports, preventing them from joining their teammates on teams that align with their gender identity. Denying trans youth the ability to participate in team sports denies them the myriad benefits that such participation conveys. We are waiting for a decision from the court on motions for summary judgment by both us and the other side.
–Gore v. Lee: Meanwhile, we are awaiting a ruling from the U.S. District Court in a case filed four years ago challenging Tennessee’s prohibition on allowing transgender people born in Tennessee from correcting the gender marker on their birth certificates, a necessary identity document that exposes transgender to harassment, abuse, and forced outings when the gender marker conflicts with their gender identity. Our motion for summary judgment and the state’s motion to dismiss have been fully briefed for three years now and a decision could be issued any moment.
–B.P.J v. West Virginia State Department of Education: Lambda Legal, along with the ACLU, ACLU of WV, and Cooley LLP, is challenging West Virginia’s exclusion of transgender girls and women from participating on girls’ and women’s sports teams. The team brought this case on behalf of Becky Pepper Jackson, a 13-year-old middle school student who has been participating on her school’s track-and-field team for the past five seasons. This lawsuit is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
–Fain v. Crouch: Lambda Legal secured a victory for transgender West Virginians denied Medicaid coverage for necessary healthcare to treat gender dysphoria. The state of West Virginia appealed this ruling, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hold an en banc hearing on this case together with a similar case out of North Carolina – Kadel v. Folwell.
–Kadel v. Folwell: Alongside TLDEF and the law firms HWG LLP and McDermott Will & Emery, we successfully challenged the categorical prohibition on coverage for gender-affirming medical care contained within the North Carolina State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees. The NC State Treasurer and State Plan appealed and the case will now be heard by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit alongside Fain v. Crouch.
Lambda Legal believes that all young people deserve to be respected and affirmed in the classroom and in their communities. Parents should not be punished for loving and supporting their trans children. State lawmakers should expand access to life-saving health care, not take it away. Religion shouldn’t be used to invalidate the rights and lives of LGBTQ+ people and everyone living with HIV.
We will not stop until we all have full equality and protection under the law.