LGBTQ groups say transgender people face increasing threats of violence and discrimination in the US.

A federal appeals court in the United States has approved a Florida high school policy that prohibits transgender high school students from using the restrooms of their chosen identities.

On Friday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a seven-to-four decision that the policy — set by a school board in St Johns County, Florida — did not violate the Equal Protections Clause of the U.S. Constitution or federal civil rights law .

“This is a dissenting ruling that contradicts the rulings of every other circuit to consider the issue across the country,” said Tara Borelli, an attorney with LGBTQ civil rights organization Lambda Legal, who was involved in the case. “We will review and evaluate this dangerous decision over the weekend.”

The ruling is a victory for conservatives who have sought to impose strict gender views on institutions across the country. In May, Oklahoma became the latest state to sign a so-called “bathroom law,” requiring students in public schools to use restrooms, locker rooms and showers that match the gender listed on their birth certificates.

LGBTQ groups fought back, accusing lawmakers of fomenting fear and resentment against transgender people. Lambda Legal is also challenging Oklahoma law in federal court.

St. Johns County policies likewise forced transgender students to use restrooms that matched the biological sex they were assigned at birth rather than their chosen identity.

The policy was challenged in 2017 by Drew Adams, a transgender man who was banned from using the men’s room when he was a student at Allen D Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

The administration of US President Joe Biden had urged the circuit court to strike down the rule, but the court voted to uphold it. Six of the seven majority justices were appointed by former President Donald Trump, a Republican, who rolled back protections for transgender people while in office.

States and local jurisdictions in the US have continued to pursue policies that critics say discriminate against transgender people, including legislation that would prohibit transgender youth from participating in sports teams and competitions that match their gender identity.

Earlier this month, a a lawsuit has also been filed against the US state of Georgia, which alleges that the state’s health insurance system illegally discriminates by refusing to pay for gender-affirming health care.

“The exclusion communicates to transgender people and to the public that their state government deems them unworthy of equal treatment,” the lawsuit argues.

LGBTQ people in the US have expressed concern that heated rhetoric directed at them by conservative figures has contributed to a flammable environment and an “epidemic of hate”.

Right-wing groups, sometimes including members of armed militias, have protested against drag shows in the US. In Boston, a children’s hospital that provides gender-affirming medical treatment has suffered numerous bomb threats. And a shooter attacked an LGBTQ nightclub last month in Colorado, which killed five people and injured at least 17 others.

In December, Biden signed a law protecting same-sex marriage rights amid concerns. The country’s Supreme Court, which has a sizable Conservative majority, could reverse protections previously granted to LGBTQ people.

“This law and the love it defends is a blow to hate in all its forms, which is why this law is important to every American, no matter who you are and who you love,” Biden said at the signing ceremony.



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