Metro Weekly

Frederick School Board sued over pro-transgender policies

Student claims allowing trans students in the girls' restroom and on girls' sports teams violates her right to privacy

Frederick High School – Photo: Facebook.

Lawyers representing a 15-year-old Maryland girl and her mother have sued the Frederick County (Md.) School Board over a policy that allows transgender students to use the bathroom matching their gender identity. 

The lawsuit argues that the restroom policy violates the girl’s fundamental right to bodily privacy, and her mother’s “fundamental parental rights regarding the care, custody, control, upbringing and information regarding her child.”

The school board approved the restroom policy in June, as well as other policies regarding how the school system treats transgender students, reports the Frederick News-Post. One of those policies includes using correct gender-specific pronouns and names when referring to transgender students. Another allows students to participate on sports teams aligned with their gender identity.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs, known as “Mary Smith,” and her mother, “Jane Doe,” allege that school authorities failed to adequately monitor bathrooms, which allowed another “female student [to] video her on her phone and to then distribute photos of her body.”

There is no indication that the alleged violation was committed by or had anything to do with a transgender student. Nonetheless, the lawsuit argues that the pro-transgender policy encourages teachers and school officials to keep parents in the dark about whether their children may be using facilities in which transgender students may be present.

Smith claims that she and other biological females will avoid school bathrooms altogether because of privacy and safety concerns. That claim is largely hypothetical, though, as the pro-transgender policy was passed in June after school had let out for the year, meaning no students have actually been affected by its implementation.

Smith and Doe’s lawyer, Dan Cox, a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates in 2018 and a vocal opponent of the policy when it was first proposed, has asked for a permanent injunction on the restroom policy, and that students be limited to using bathrooms that match their gender identity.

The lawsuit also asks the school district to prohibit transgender females from competing on interscholastic athletic teams, and to communicate with parents on an issue dealing with a student’s sexuality or gender identity.

Unlike other states where lawsuits over bathroom access have been filed, Maryland has a statewide nondiscrimination law prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations. The Trump administration has taken the stance that each state or individual school district should make its own policy with respect to access to restrooms or changing facilities.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com