Court rejects bid to ban transgender kids from school bathrooms

A US federal appeals court has rejected an attempt to ban transgender children from using the bathrooms of their chosen gender.

The case was filed against Boyertown Area School District in Pennsylvania, in an attempt to challenge the school district’s transgender-inclusive policies.

Anti-LGBT law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, which recently took a ‘freedom to discriminate’ battle to the Supreme Court, was behind the case, filed on behalf of two students who claim that their “right to bodily privacy” is violated by trans-inclusive rules.

The ADF, which has lobbied in favour of sodomy laws and is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to its extreme beliefs, had claimed a minor victory at the Supreme Court when justices issued a narrow ruling in favour of anti-gay baker Jack Phillips.

A bathroom sign (Creative Commons photo/Hafidz Alifuddin)

But there was no such success at the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which Think Progress notes decisively rejected their bid in the Boyertown case.

In a firm ruling the three-judge panel wrote: “There is simply nothing inappropriate about transgender students using the restrooms or locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity under the policy BASH has initiated, and we reject appellants’ attempt to argue that there is.

“The presence of transgender students in these spaces does not offend the constitutional right of privacy any more than the presence of cisgender students in those spaces.”

It adds that ADF’s filings “completely miss (or deliberately ignores) the reason for the disputed policy or the circumstances it addresses.”

A sign outside Boyertown (Publicity image/Alliance Defending Freedom)

Upholding the ruling in favour of the school district, the court concluded: “The Boyertown Area School District has adopted a very thoughtful and carefully tailored policy in an attempt to address some very real issues while faithfully discharging its obligation to maintain a safe and respectful environment in which everyone can both learn and thrive.

“The District Court correctly concluded that the appellants’ attempt to enjoin that policy based on an alleged violation of their privacy rights and their rights under Title IX and Pennsylvania tort law is not likely to succeed on the merits.

“The District Court was also correct in deciding that denying the injunction would not irreparably harm the appellants. For the reasons set forth above and in the well-reasoned District Court opinion, we will affirm the District Court’s denial of the requested preliminary injunction.”

One of the plaintiffs, Alexis Lightcap (Publicity image/Alliance Defending Freedom)

The ADF has vowed to appeal.

Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb said: “The Supreme Court has already spoken: The real differences between men and women mean that privacy must be protected where it really counts, and that certainly includes high school locker rooms and restrooms.

“This decision is out of step with longstanding legal protection for privacy. We will continue advocating for these young students.”

One of the plaintiffs, Alexis Lightcap

Alexis Lightcap, a student who claims to be upset by transgender people in bathrooms, said: “Today’s ruling was very disappointing, and made me feel—again—like my voice was not heard. Every student’s privacy should be protected.”