LGQRI SEMINAR: "Holding the Levees as the Waters Rise"
In this interactive seminar for U-M students, faculty and staff, Carl Charles, Senior Attorney for Lambda Legal, will share current developments in LGBTQ legal advocacy and engage with participants on questions, concerns, and ways to get involved.
**This online event is intended only for members of the University of Michigan community and is not open to the public. Registration with a umich email address is required.**
Sponsored by the Lesbian-Gay-Queer Research Initiative (LGQRI) at IRWG.
The early twenty-first century saw progress in formal equality under the law for many LGBTQ people in the United States. But as the quarter-century mark approaches, the movement faces a backlash. LGBTQ legal advocates secured crucial victories in the federal courts and agencies during the Obama presidency but were powerless to stop the flood of far-right judicial appointments after the 2016 election, including three lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court. Although LGBTQ advocates have managed some wins in increasingly conservative federal courts, including the surprising Bostock decision in the Supreme Court (2020), the Dobbs ruling just two years later threatens to upend the LGBTQ movement’s last twenty-five years of progress. This progress has made many LGBTQ people’s lives safer, more stable, more fulfilling, and longer. But opponents of LGBTQ equality have dusted off old playbooks, and, giving them the new, stronger binding of social media platforms, they attempt to sway public opinion against the most vulnerable and inoculate a generation against principles of inclusion, diversity, and acceptance. The fate of LGBTQ people in the U.S. is bound up with that of other marginalized groups, all of whom are threatened by the Supreme Court’s shifting of the goal posts of our democracy.
About the Speaker:
Carl Charles is a Senior Attorney in the Southern Regional Office of Lambda Legal, located in Atlanta, Georgia. During his time at Lambda Legal, Carl has been involved in litigating cases expanding and solidifying federal civil rights protections for transgender people. His recent and ongoing work includes serving as counsel in B.P.J. v. West Virginia Board of Education, a federal lawsuit challenging West Virginia’s law banning girls and women who are transgender from participating in school sports; in Fain v. Crouch, a federal lawsuit challenging West Virginia’s blanket exclusion of coverage for gender-confirming care in its state health insurance plans; in Kadel et al. v. Folwell et al., a federal lawsuit challenging North Carolina state officials for discrimination in state employee health care; and in Eller v. Prince George’s County Public Schools, a federal lawsuit on behalf of a teacher who endured years of abuse, harassment, and retaliation at the hands of school administrators, teachers, staff, parents and students because she is a transgender woman.
Carl was also lead drafter of an amicus brief filed in Hecox v. Little, a challenge to Idaho’s HB 500, which sought to ban girls and women who are transgender from participating in sports at all levels and to subject all women to sex-verification testing. The brief was created in partnership with, and signed on by, the Women’s Sports Foundation and Athlete Ally. 176 athletes in women’s sports signed in their individual capacities, including tennis legend Billie Jean King, basketball superstar Candace Parker, and international soccer icon Megan Rapinoe.
Prior to joining Lambda Legal Carl served as a staff attorney with A Better Balance, where he advocated nationwide for LGBTQ-inclusive family definitions in workplace laws and policies. He also worked as a staff attorney with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, investigating and prosecuting violations of New York City Human Rights Law. And Carl began his legal career as a Skadden Fellow with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, where he advocated for transgender youth experiencing homelessness, living in out-of-home care, and/or involved in the juvenile justice system.
Carl has written about his own experiences as a transgender man and legal issues facing transgender people for publications including The Advocate, Conde Nast’s Them, and the former LGBTQ Digital News platform Into. Carl is a graduate of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, where he was co-president of OUTLaw and vice president of the Student Bar Association. He received his bachelor’s degree in English Education from the University of Northern Colorado.