Transgender students should be permitted to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity — rather than their biological sex — a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.
The federal appeals court ruled in favor of Drew Adams, a transgender teen who identifies as a male. Adams challenged the St. John’s County School Board after being instructed to use a gender-neutral restroom rather than the boy’s restroom at her high school.
Adams began her freshman year at Nease High School in 2015 and used the boy’s restroom until school officials were alerted of the unconventional situation. Adams, with the help of Lambda Legal, launched a lawsuit in 2017 and found favor with the court in 2018. The judge at the time determined that Adams did not pose a threat to either the “privacy or safety of any of his fellow students” and stated that “the law requires that he be treated like any other boy.”
The school district appealed the decision, which was taken to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled in Adams’ favor last week.
Per the Tampa Bay Times:
On Friday, the 11th Circuit issued a 2-1 decision in Adams’ favor written by U.S. Circuit Judge Beverly Martin. She cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s June Bostock vs. Clayton County decision, which found that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The court ruled that the school’s “policy of exclusion” constitutes discrimination under Title IX, concluding that Title IX “prohibits discrimination against a person because he is transgender, because this constitutes discrimination based on sex.”
The policy “places a special burden on transgender students because their gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth,” Martin wrote.
“A public school may not punish its students for gender nonconformity. Neither may a public school harm transgender students by establishing arbitrary, separate rules for their restroom use,” Martin, an Obama appointee, wrote in the ruling.
“The evidence at trial confirms that Mr. Adams suffered both these indignities,” the judge continued. “The record developed in the District Court shows that the School Board failed to honor Mr. Adams’s rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX.”
U.S. Circuit Judge William Pryor, an appointee of George W. Bush, penned the dissent, concluding that the majority opinion “distorts the [school board’s] policy, misunderstands the legal claims asserted, and rewrites well-established precedent.” Pryor also took issue with the majority opinion’s fundamental interpretation of Title IX, noting that sex “has never meant gender identity.”
Per Court House News:
Pryor went on to argue that Congress could not have intended the term “sex” to include gender identity when the law was enacted in 1972 because the medical community at that time “was firmly opposed to sex reassignment surgery.”
“It is untenable to construe transgender status, which even the medical community saw as a departure from the norm, as altering the norm itself among the general public,” Pryor wrote.
Pryor added that the majority “does not offer a meaningful way to distinguish this appeal from one that challenges sex-separated bathrooms and locker rooms.”
“Ultimately, if the privacy interest at stake is untethered from using the bathroom away from the opposite sex or from biological differences between the sexes, then no justification exists for separating bathrooms—or any related facility—by sex,” Pryor cautioned.
However, the majority determined that Adams, who began transitioning before high school, was discriminated against, pointing to the fact that legal documents reflect her identity as a male.
“I am very happy to see justice prevail, after spending almost my entire high school career fighting for equal treatment,” Adams, now a student at the University of Central Florida, said in a statement.
“High school is hard enough without having your school separate you from your peers and mark you as inferior,” Adams continued. “I hope this decision helps save other transgender students from having to go through that painful and humiliating experience.”
Tara Borelli, counsel at Lambda Legal, also counted the ruling as a victory, stating that the court “sent a clear message that schools must treat transgender students with the same dignity and respect as any other student.”
“The trial court was correct when it ruled that the law requires that Drew Adams be treated like every other boy and be allowed to use the boys’ restroom,” Borelli said. “We are glad the court saw the school board’s policy as unjust and discriminatory, and affirmed the inherent dignity and worth of transgender students.”
The ruling comes as media outlets, including CNN, as well as resources such as Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Dictionary.com, continue in their efforts to echo the radical transgender ideology, effectively erasing the reality of biological sex and, specifically, biological women.
The ruling also coincides with ongoing legal battles over allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports — something Attorney General William Barr has called “fundamentally unfair to female athletes.”