February 20, 2023
On February 6, 2023, the American Bar Association adopted a new resolution, led in part by the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York’s Executive Director, Shain Filcher, and past president, Kristen Browde, to provide a bench card to all judges and court staff nationwide with information for the use of LGBTQ+ inclusive language. This policy had been preciously adopted by the New York State Office of Court Administration and the New York State Bar Association’s House of Delegates. With the passing of this resolution, the ABA implores all lawyers, judges, and those in the legal profession to use gender inclusive language in their practice.
This bench card also provides guidance for judges and court staff on how to interact with transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive court users in accordance with the Judicial Rules of Conduct. It elucidates for judges the proper use of commonly used pronouns while encouraging judges to avoid the use of gender specific words and phrases such as “ladies and gentlemen of the jury”. It also provides judges with definitions and terminology relating to gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
With the passing of this resolution, Anthony Perrotto, President of LGBT Bar NY, stated, “This is a major step forward for the respectful treatment of all persons who engage with our court systems nationwide. In New York State, we ask our jurors to make very important decisions about another member of the community and charge that those decisions are not based on stereotypes or attitudes. Now we are simply asking all our Judges across the country to respect that same charge. There is no justice without respect for all persons. I am very proud of the work of our Executive Director and the work they continue to do to fight for our community.”
LGBT Bar NY's Executive Director, Shain Filcher, further added, “This victory would not have been possible without a broad coalition of LGBTQ+ attorneys, organizations, and allies statewide. I want to thank the Honorable James. L Hyer for his leadership of the New York State Ninth Judicial District Access to Justice Committee LGBTQ+ Subcommittee, Sherry Levin Wallach, NYSBA President, Samuel W. Buchbauer, Membership Chair of the NYSBA LGBTQ+ Law Section, and The Richard C. Failla LGBTQ Commission, among others. To see the ABA Resolution passed, particularly during LGBT Bar NY’s sapphire (45th) anniversary, demonstrates the progress of the legal profession and the promise of ongoing efforts to make the court system accessible for everyone."