WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today declined to hear Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, allowing school districts to continue to support transgender students by allowing them to use restrooms that match their gender.
In 2016, the Boyertown Area School District began to allow transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender while also allowing all students the option of using private facilities. A group of non-transgender students sued Boyertown, arguing that the Constitution requires boys and girls who are transgender to be excluded from the facilities that other boys and girls use. They also argued that the mere presence of transgender students in common restrooms and locker rooms is sexual harassment.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the idea that transgender students are a threat to other students and ruled in favor of the school district. In a powerful opinion, the court recognized that forcing transgender students to use separate facilities from everyone else would “publicly brand all transgender students with a scarlet ‘T,’ and they should not have to endure that as the price of attending their public school.”
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The American Civil Liberties Union represents the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, a coalition of LGBTQ youth leaders and youth organizations, which intervened in the case to defend the district’s right to allow transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender. The law firm Cozen O’Connor is cooperating counsel.
Ria Tabacco Mar, senior staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, had the following response:
“This is an enormous victory for transgender students across the country. Boyertown’s schools chose to be inclusive and welcoming of transgender students in 2016, a decision the courts have affirmed again and again. This lawsuit sought to reverse that hard-won progress by excluding transgender students from school facilities that other students use. That would have increased the stigma and discrimination that transgender students already face.
“Thankfully, today’s announcement allows schools to move forward with policies that support transgender students. But our work is far from over. We will continue to defend the transgender community from attacks in the courts, the legislatures, and the White House.”
Aidan DeStefano, a recent graduate of Boyertown High who is transgender, had the following response:
“By the time I graduated high school, I was using the boys’ bathroom and participating on the boys’ cross country team. I felt like I belonged and had the confidence I needed to continue with my education. I’m glad the Supreme Court is allowing schools like mine to continue supporting transgender students.”