Supreme Court emphatically refuses to hear case seeking to ban trans students from bathrooms and locker rooms

LGBT+ activists rally in front of the Supreme Court in October 2019

The US Supreme Court declined Monday (7 December) to take up an appeal from parents in Oregon vying to prevent trans youth from using the school bathrooms, showers and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.

In a years-long and simmering legal battle, parents argued that the policy enacted by Dallas School District No 2, in Dallas, violated pupils’ privacy rights. Forming Parents for Privacy, they sued the school district in 2017, only for the policy to be upheld by both lower district and federal appellate courts.

A district court dismissed its lawsuit, while the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling. The parents notched one final attack against the trans-inclusive policy by appealing the Ninth Circuit’s decision and taking it to the Supreme Court.

But SCOTUS dismissed the judicial review, keeping the policy intact, according to a one-line order.

Indeed, as much as the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett fuelled alarm and unease among LGBT+ advocates, concerns raised over how a Supreme Court tilted to the right could hobble queer rights, SCOTUS rejected a case which could have trampled on trans youth.

This means that fewer than four justices determined that the Ninth Circuit’s decision warranted a judicial review, despite the Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative majority.

Anti-trans parents’ pleas over bathroom police were ‘misconceived’, say school officials

The policy was first put in place by school administrators in 2015, when student Elliot Yoder came out as trans. Current policies forced him to use the wrong facilities – so district officials simply changed them.

Some parents were not pleased by this, however, and sought to sue the school and argued that it violated constitutional rights as well as Title IX, a law that protects people from sex-based discrimination in federally-funded education programs.

The title was broadened to include gender identity by the Obama Administration, but this was swiftly scrapped by Trump officials.

Such claims, Dallas School District lawyers argued according to court filings, were “fundamentally misconceived”. They also noted that Yoder, the lightning rod for Parents for Privacy’s criticisms, has since graduated.

The case was one of a number of legal efforts to overturn trans-inclusive school policies, with bathroom access often reduced by conservative legislators and lobbyists into a battleground over trans rights itself.

The Supreme Court rejected a case last year that could have been a major blow to trans rights after cisgender students challenged a similar policy in the Boyertown Area School District in Philadelphia.

While federal courts ruled in favour earlier this year of a trans student in Florida securing bathroom access for his trans peers.