Gerald Bostock just wants to help people.
And that’s just what he spent ten years of his life doing as the coordinator for CASA in Clayton County, Ga. As the leader of the program, he recruited, trained, and organized volunteers to support and advocate for children in the court system.
By all accounts, Bostock was excellent at his job. Under his leadership, 100 percent of the children in Clayton County had a volunteer advocate by their side every time they were in court. His supervisors wrote glowing reviews of his work.
But all of that came to an end when Bostock joined a gay recreational softball league. The once well-respected advocate and leader was subjected to gay slurs and eventually fired from his job for “conduct unbecoming an employee of Clayton County.” In that vague description, Bostock read that he was fired for being gay.
Bostock was just trying to take care of himself after a hard-fought battle with prostate cancer. Instead, he kicked off a years-long legal campaign that has gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and still isn’t quite over.
It takes moxie to advocate for kids, for your community, and for yourself, and Gerald Bostock has it. Here’s how:
Moxie gets justice for all.
When he was fired from his job, Bostock decided to fight back. According to the Advocate, Bostock sued the county in federal court for violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which says that people can’t be discriminated against on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Bostock argued that firing him because he was gay amounted to sex discrimination.
A trial court and federal appeals court disagreed, saying that sexual orientation was outside the scope of the law as it is currently written. Bostock took his case all the way to the Supreme Court.
This time, the court agreed, 6–3.
In the majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote “In Title VII, Congress outlawed discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”
And just like that, the one-time child advocate successfully advocated for equal protection under the law for LGBTQ+ people everywhere.
Moxie is in it for the long haul.
Bostock’s legal odyssey began in 2013, the year he was fired. After his firing, he filed a discrimination suit against Clayton County. His case was finally heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in October of 2019, and a ruling was issued in June 2020. In between those two dates, the case was heard and Bostock’s arguments were rejected by a lower court and an appeals court.
That’s seven long years of disappointment before vindication. Even so, Bostock expressed optimism.
Just before his case was heard before the Supreme Court, Bostock said in an interview with NBC News, “I have faith in the judicial system. I’m going to get to come back to the 11th Circuit and have my day in court here, so that I can not only clear my name but restore my reputation and paint my own portrait, not have it painted by someone else.”
The Supreme Court ruling isn’t the end for Bostock’s legal case. His original discrimination lawsuit against Clayton County was never heard and decided; he’s now won the right to once again pursue his claim.
Moxie knows there’s more at stake.
Bostock fights not only for himself but for all vulnerable people impacted directly and indirectly by discrimination.
“What about the children still in foster care in Clayton County? We had achieved the benchmark of serving 100 percent of children in care, and it is now my understanding of the program is no longer supplying a CASA volunteer for every child in the courts. Those children have become re-victimized,” Bostock said in a 2019 interview with The Daily Beast.
“What about children in care who identify as LGBTQ? What kind of message does this case send to them? They have lost a positive role model. They lost somebody they could look up to. I think Clayton County has sent a very homophobic message to them that their lives don’t matter.
“What about the gay softball league, and the LGBTQ community within Atlanta — all those wonderful people interested in the program and volunteering? It’s also a very homophobic message sent to that community: ‘You’re not welcome to participate in the Clayton County court program.’ There are lots of homophobia-related issues at play here, and a lot of victims as a result of it.”
Wikipedia’s Page link for Bostock v. Clayton County: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bostock_v._Clayton_County