ALAMOGORDO, NEW MEXICO - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico today sent a letter to members of the Alamogordo Public School Board of Education, the superintendent's office, and the athletics department, advising them that a proposed policy that would ban trans youth from participating in sports could violate state and federal law. The letter also advises that the policy would make it difficult for trans students to thrive and feel safe at school.
“This proposed policy not only runs counter to state and federal law, but it also creates a hostile environment for trans youth,” said Legal Director at the ACLU of New Mexico Leon Howard. “Trans youth should never have to fear going to school or participating in a meaningful activity just because of who they are. They should be able to attend school in an environment that is safe, welcoming, and affirming.”
The United States Supreme Court held in 2020, in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc., v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that discriminating against someone on the basis of them being transgender or queer runs afoul of the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex. The federal government, as of March 2021, determined the reasoning of this opinion logically applies to other provisions of the Civil Rights Act, like Title IX, which applies to schools. Similarly, the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA) explicitly provides that gender identity and sex are protected from discrimination in matters of employment, housing, credit, union membership, and at public accommodations. Athletic and Extracurricular activities fall within the definition of public accommodations under the NMHRA.
“Trans children already face extreme hardships that stem from coordinated attacks on their very existence and continued discrimination they face at almost every turn,” said Howard. “The Alamogordo Public School Board should consider the deep harm that this policy would enact and, rather than choosing to make trans children’s lives more difficult, take measures to ensure they can live in dignity.”
In the letter, the ACLU urges the Alamogordo Public School Board to immediately pull this proposed resolution and make public that this has been done; make clear in a public form that the resolution was ill-advised and illegal; publish a document, signed by the School Board, clarifying that the district welcomes, supports, and affirms trans students of all kinds; and engage in trans-specific sensitivity training as a Board, and make this training available to district staff as well.
A copy of the letter is available below.