Metro Weekly

Trans Pittsburgh student “glad” school district reversed anti-trans policy

School district agrees to add gender identity to its nondiscrimination policies, including for restroom access

Elissa Ridenour – Photo: Lambda Legal.

“No one should have to go through what we went through and I’m so happy that transgender students at Pine-Richland High will no longer be discriminated against.”

Elissa Ridenour, one of the three recent graduates of Pine-Richland High School in suburban Pittsburgh who sued her local school district over its policy barring her and other transgender children from facilities matching their gender identity.

Lambda Legal, which represented Ridenour and her classmates Juliet Evancho and A.S. in their lawsuit against the school district, recently negotiated an agreement with the Pine-Richland School District to end that lawsuit.

The agreement came after a federal judge determined that the policy violated the students’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and ordered the school district to stop enforcing its new policy.

Under the agreement:

  1. The school district agrees to a permanent injunction that prevents them from barring transgender students from bathrooms matching their gender identity.
  2. The school district agrees to never take disciplinary action against transgender students for using restrooms that match their gender identity.
  3. The school district agrees to include gender identity (and sexual orientation) in its nondiscrimination policies and practices. 
  4. The school district agrees to adopt policies that respect students’ gender identity with respect to student records, names, pronouns, and other how they are treated.

“This is a victory for transgender students everywhere and sends a clear warning to school districts with anti-transgender bathroom policies,” Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a staff attorney with Lambda Legal, said in a statement.

“Although Juliet, Elissa and A.S. have now graduated, their courage has opened doors for current and future transgender students at Pine-Richland and elsewhere who will no longer be barred from using the bathroom that matches who they are,” Gonzalez-Pagan added. “The settlement affirms that transgender students, like all students, deserve to be respected for who they are.”

“All of us had been using the restrooms that match who we are with no problems until some parents and outside groups complained,” said Ridenour. “But I’m glad the school district finally did the right thing.”

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