SCOTUS Rejects Appeal to Restrict Transgender Student Access to Locker Rooms and Bathrooms

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The United States Supreme Court will not take up a case based on a parents’ lawsuit against a school district for allowing students to use locker rooms and bathrooms based on the perceived gender rather than their biological sex.

The legal case began in the Salem, Oregon area against a school district’s policy of allowing access to spaces based on “gender identity.”

The Associated Press (AP), which defines biological sex as “sex assigned at birth,” reported on the court’s decision:

The federal appeals court in San Francisco had upheld a Dallas, Oregon, school district policy that allows transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.

Parents sued over the policy in 2017, saying it caused embarrassment and stress. A lower court refused to block the policy and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling, writing that the school district did not violate students’ constitutional rights or a law that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs.

Similar lawsuits have been dismissed by courts in other parts of the country.

The ACLU assailed the lawsuit as targeting transgender youth “for simply existing and seeking an education.”

“The case targets transgender youth for simply existing and seeking an education,” said Mat dos Santos, legal director for ACLU Oregon, in 2017, according to the AP. “This lawsuit is senseless and cruel but it is not a meaningful threat to the right of transgender students in Oregon.”

Lawyers representing the parents in the suit had quite a different perspective. Herb Grey, the attorney representing the parents bringing the suit, said that the district’s policy did not protect the rights of students who identifying as transgender. For example, Grey said, males would be embarrassed if they had to undress in front of a student who was a biological female.

“The key to this whole thing is not just the privacy and the rights of just one student. It’s the rights of all the students and their parents and you can’t interpret federal law and state law and impose it on everyone else and say you’re accommodating everyone — because you’re not accommodating everyone,” said Grey.

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