Storytelling, Leadership, and the Law: Using Amicus Briefs to Understand the Impact of School District Policies and Practices Related to Transgender Student Inclusion

Maria M. Lewis, Suzanne E. Eckes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a highly publicized case brought by a transgender student, G.G., who was denied access to the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity. Ultimately, the Court never heard this case, but the documents submitted to the Court remain a part of the historical record, worthy of examination beyond their legal value. In this study, we analyze the first person accounts presented in the “friend of the court” (amicus) briefs to better understand the human impact of policies and practices related to transgender student inclusion. Method: This research utilizes legal research methods to bound the study design. We draw from legal storytelling, which originates in law, and narrative inquiry, which can be found in educational research. In doing so, we provide a synthesis of all amicus briefs submitted in the G.G. case that include personal, firsthand accounts, stories, and experiences. Findings: Overall, the personal stories highlight the implications of inclusive and noninclusive policies and practices. Where noninclusive policies were in place, individuals shared experiences of bullying, academic harm, medical concerns, and inconsistencies in implementation. On the other hand, inclusive policies were associated with confidence building and academic engagement, and a benefit to all students. Stories also reveal that common fears such as safety or privacy did not materialize in the experiences of individuals represented in the briefs. Implications: Informed by these stories, we present implications for research, policy, and practice. Stories reveal the importance of leadership, communication, and professional development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-88
Number of pages43
JournalEducational Administration Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Public Administration

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