Appeals Court Gives School District Legal Victory on Transgender Issue

The district’s policy of allowing both transgender boys and girls to use the locker room or bathroom that they most identify with can continue, a panel of judges said Thursday.

The U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a ruling a lower court had made on the issue last year after students had challenged the policy. A formal decision will be announced on June 4, the court said.

The lawsuit against the district was filed during the 2016-17 school year by students who claimed that the district’s policy “violated the students’ bodily privacy rights.” They filed the suit with the help of the conservative group Alliance Defending Freedom. Five students joined the lawsuit, two of them recently.

Lawyers for the district said it’s made reasonable accommodations so no one is forced to forfeit his or her privacy, according to a 69 News story. They also said the district faces an equal protection claim if it doesn’t continue allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.

“This case has always been about ensuring a fair and equal educational environment for transgender students,” said Mary Catherine Roper, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, according to the 69 News story. “We are grateful that the court understood that, and we are especially grateful to our clients who bravely stood up in defense of the school’s practice.”

The Morning Call quoted Aidan DeStefano, a transgender former student who graduated last year and has been outspoken about the issue.

“Transgender students just want what everyone else wants, to be accepted for who we are,” he said, according to the 69 News story. “Reversing the practices that have allowed me and other trans kids to thrive at school would have been devastating. I’m glad other transgender students will know the experience of being treated like any other student.”