Metro Weekly

Florida school district settles lawsuit brought by transgender student

Settlement terms require district to allow John Doe to use boys' facilities without interference

Photo: Nikolai Nolan, via Wikimedia.

A federal court in Florida has approved a settlement agreement in a lawsuit brought by a transgender high school student against their local school board.

The Volusia County School Board has agreed to settle amid allegations that they violated a transgender student’s civil rights when they barred him from using the boys’ restrooms and locker rooms because of his gender identity.

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida approved the final agreement, which grants the student, known as John Doe, permission to use the boys’ bathrooms and locker rooms in county schools.

“This settlement is a victory for transgender youth and will promote their health, safety, and well-being,” Asaf Orr, a staff attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Transgender Youth Project, said in a statement. “We are pleased to see [the Volusia County School Board] take these steps to do the right thing and allow our client to use the restroom and locker room consistent with his gender identity.”

“Thanks to this settlement, John can focus on his education rather than the daily stigma and discrimination being separated from his peers,” added Lauren Valiente of Foley & Lardner LLP, who served as co-counsel on the case.

Doe has identified and presented as a transgender boy since the age of seven and began hormone therapy in middle school. He even underwent gender confirmation surgery in 2017.

Yet despite informing school officials of his transition, and providing written documentation from his medical providers confirming he had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, officials at the school and in the district — including the superintendent — refused to acknowledge Doe’s gender identity.

As a result, the district barred Doe from using boys’ facilities, forcing him to use unisex facilities that separate him from other students.

Due to the stress and anxiety he feels because of the school district’s policy, Doe began plucking out his eyelashes and reducing his fluid intake so he didn’t have to use the bathroom while at school — behaviors that can potentially endanger his health.

Doe issued a statement celebrating the school’s decision to settle the lawsuit and allow him access to facilities matching his gender identity.

“I am relieved to see my school district do the right thing and make this change,” he said. “Now, I finally feel like I have the support I need to finish my last years in high school without worrying about being singled out.”

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