Supreme Court leaves Pennsylvania school transgender student bathroom policy in place
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Supreme Court on Tuesday left in place a lower court ruling in favor of a Pennsylvania school district policy that allows some transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.
This case is a challenge to a Pennsylvania’s school district’s policy that allows some transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. The plaintiffs are students who say the policy violates their privacy rights and constitutes sexual harassment in violation of Title IX, a federal law that bars discrimination based on sex in educational institutions that receive federal funds.
Tuesday’s ruling was issued without comment.
In court papers, lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that “forcing a teenager to share a locker room or restroom with a member of the opposite sex can cause embarrassment and distress.”
“The district’s policy was a drastic change from the way locker rooms and restrooms have been regulated for the entire history of public-school systems,” they said.
Lawyers for the school district say that they made the decision to allow transgender students to use facilities that aligned with their gender identity because the district “Believes that transgender students should have the right to use school bathroom and locker facilities on the same basis as non-transgender students.”
They say the permission is not automatic but that when a transgender student requests to use facilities that comport with his or her gender identity, they have “several conversations” with a guidance counselor.
As a part of their briefs, they include a picture of Aidan DeStefano, who graduated last year from one of the schools and is a transgender male, to show why he doesn’t belong in a bathroom that corresponds to the sex he was assigned at birth.
A lower court declined to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the policy.
Under the Obama administration: the departments of Education and Justice issued guidance to school districts that recommended that schools allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identity.
But the Trump administration withdrew that guidance.
When it did so, a pending case concerning a student from Virginia, Gavin Grimm, was dismissed.
This is the reverse case, brought not by a transgender student, but from students who object to sharing a bathroom with transgender individuals.