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Silicon Valley backs transgender rights in Supreme Court case

More than half the 53 companies that signed a brief supporting Gavin Grimm's case are from the tech industry.

Gavin Grimm has a lot of support from Silicon Valley.
The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tech is throwing its support behind transgender rights in connection with an upcoming US Supreme Court case.

The Human Rights Campaign said Thursday that 53 companies signed an amicus brief in support of Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy from Virginia, who sued his school board in Gloucester County over the right to use the bathroom that aligns with his gender identity. More than half the companies that signed the brief are tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft, eBay, IBM, Intel, Twitter and Yahoo.

"Across the country, corporate leaders are speaking out because they know attacking transgender youth isn't just shameful -- it also puts the families of their employees and customers at risk," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, in a statement.

Chipmaker Intel wrote a blog post in addition to signing the brief, saying, "Intel signed this amicus brief to stand with our LGBTQ colleagues, customers, communities, suppliers and partners, and we firmly believe that equality for LGBTQ individuals is a civil right."

Several of the companies that signed the brief didn't immediately respond to a request for comment or said they had nothing to add beyond the brief.

Tech has become increasingly involved with social issues. In the past several years, companies like Google, Facebook and Apple have released diversity reports and adopted policies and practices to become less homogenous. Companies also spoke out against President Donald Trump's January executive order on immigration.

The topic of who can use which bathroom has been hotly debated. In February, Trump reversed policies former President Barack Obama made in 2016 to let transgender public school students use bathrooms matching their gender identity. A number of tech companies spoke out at the time. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, tweeted, "Rolling back rights for transgender students is wrong. Twitter and Square stand with the LGBTQ community, always."

IBM stated at the time of the policy reversal: "IBM has had an explicit policy of non-discrimination based on gender identity or expression since 2002, and we are opposed to discrimination in all its forms, including any policies that discriminate based on gender identity in education."

This isn't the first time tech has weighed in on transgender issues. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was a vocal opponent of North Carolina's law requiring transgender people to use bathrooms based on their gender at birth. PayPal protested by nixing plans last year to expand in Charlotte, North Carolina, and companies like IBM, Microsoft, Cisco and eBay signed an amicus brief in 2016 supporting the Justice Department's effort to block the so-called "bathroom bill."

"Every child deserves an opportunity to succeed free of fear, anxiety, and threats of discrimination. Salesforce strongly believes that all students, including transgender students, should be treated as equals, and we disagree with any effort to limit their rights. Equality for all," Salesforce said in a statement regarding Thursday's brief.

That brief will be submitted with Grimm's case, which is expected go before the Supreme Court on March 28.