SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church is one of six faith groups that have filed a joint "friend of the court" brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing a federal ruling that allows transgender students to use bathrooms matching their stated gender identity.
The brief's purpose "is to inform the court about the sharp clashes with religious belief and practice that will arise if the court interprets the term 'sex' in Title IX to include gender identity," according to a copy of the brief posted by scotusblog.com.
The friends listed in the brief are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the Christian Legal Society.
LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said the faith's participation in the brief does not signal a change in its position on transgender issues, but is instead "a restatement of our belief — with many other faith traditions — that gender is an eternal characteristic."
He pointed out that the brief concluded that the court should allow Congress and state legislatures to reach compromises "where transgendered persons can be appropriately accommodated without infringing on the free exercise of religion, while seeking for fairness for all."
"Sustainable results," he added, "will be more likely achieved if citizens and lawmakers are left free to address gender identity in ways that preserve the Nation’s priceless heritage of religious freedom."
The case arose in Virginia, where a 17-year-old born female but who identifies as a boy sued to use the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity. The Obama administration Department of Education directed public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. Thirteen states sued.
The Trump administration earlier this month withdrew a government motion filed with the court last year that attempted to scale back a temporary injunction blocking President Obama's guidance on the issue, according to ABC News.
The religious groups stated in the brief that, "Despite disagreements on many points of faith, we are united in supporting the vigorous free exercise of religion under the First Amendment. The religious liberty we cherish is threatened by the Fourth Circuit’s decision adopting the Department of Education’s expansion of Title IX beyond any plausible interpretation. We submit this brief to inform the court about the sharp clashes with religious belief and practice that will arise if the court interprets the term 'sex' in Title IX to include gender identity."
The state of Utah joined a separate amicus, or friend of the court, brief, also in opposition to the Department of Education. In it, the attorneys general of 21 states, including Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, made an argument over federal funds.
"The Spending Clause to the U.S. Constitution precludes the federal government from imposing an obligation on States, as a condition of receipt of federal funds, that Congress did not make clear in the statutory language," according to a copy posted on scotusblog.com. "This clear statement rule bars the newfound view that Title IX requires States to permit a student to choose a restroom consistent with the student’s gender identity."
Both briefs were filed in January.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments next month.