Metro Weekly

Anti-LGBTQ legal group demands Supreme Court hear lawsuit against school district’s pro-transgender policy

Lawsuit argues cisgender students are threatened and harmed by having to share facilities with transgender students

Photo: W.carter, via Wikimedia.

Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ conservative advocacy organization, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a lawsuit challenging a Pennsylvania school district’s policy allowing transgender students to access restrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity.

In a petition for a writ for certiorari filed with the Supreme Court, Alliance Defending Freedom asks the court to resolve two issues regarding the Boyertown Area School District’s transgender policy.

The first deals with whether a public school has a compelling interest in allowing gender-variant students to use facilities matching their gender identity, and whether such a policy is narrowly tailored.

The second issue deals with whether the policy violates transgender students’ rights under Title IX, which prohibits discrimination “based on sex” in educational settings.

Alliance Defending Freedom has argued that the Boyertown’s policy violates the bodily privacy of cisgender students by forcing them to share facilities with transgender students, and constitutes a form of “sexual harassment.”

ADF has also urged the court to declare that transgender students are not protected by Title IX.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals previously upheld a lower court’s ruling that ADF’s lawsuit should be thrown out, finding that Boyertown’s policy did not disadvantage cisgender students who are uncomfortable sharing facilities with transgender children in the same way that the lack of a policy harmed transgender children barred from living according to their gender identity.

“Policies that exclude transgender individuals from privacy facilities that are consistent with their gender identities ‘have detrimental effects on the physical and mental health, safety, and well-being of transgender individuals,'” the 3rd Circuit wrote in its opinion.

The 3rd Circuit justices also noted that Boyertown’s policy does not force any student to disrobe in the presence of any other student, and offers additional privacy options for those who request them, regardless of gender identity.

LGBTQ advocates argue that the lawsuit is trying to undermine what few protections are in place for transgender students at schools throughout the nation.

“Boyertown schools chose to be inclusive and welcoming of transgender students two years ago. Now anti-LGBTQ extremists are asking the Supreme Court to rule that local school districts like Boyertown are not only wrong, but prohibited by the Constitution from doing the right thing,” Ria Tabacco Mar, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “Their claim that transgender students are a threat to others is offensive and not supported by the evidence in Boyertown or schools around the country.

“Today’s filing is part of a larger pattern of attacks against the transgender community, including from the Trump administration,” Mar added. “But transgender people won’t be erased. We will continue to fight for transgender students with everything that we have — including at the Supreme Court.”

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

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