Karine Jean-Pierre
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Supreme Court Leaves Pennsylvania Transgender Bathroom Policy in Place

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court today let stand a federal appeals court’s ruling affirming a Pennsylvania school district’s transgender-inclusive restroom policy.

The court, without comment, declined to hear an appeal of last year’s decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that the Boyertown Area School District had the right to allow trans students to use the restrooms and other single-sex facilities that match their gender identity, NBC News reports. The Supreme Court's order denying the appeal did not say which justices wanted to hear the case, if any.

Trans students were allowed to use their preferred facilities only after a series of meetings with guidance counselors, and all students had the right to opt for private facilities as well, but no student could be forced into a private one. The Third Circuit said the policy helped prevent discrimination against trans students. Forcing them to use separate facilities 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,” the Third Circuit ruled.

The policy had been challenged by students represented by the anti-LGBTQ Alliance Defending Freedom. The students claimed that the trans-inclusive policy violated their rights to privacy and equal educational access.

“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,” said a statement issued by Rita Tabacco Mar, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project. The ACLU represents the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, a coalition of LGBTQ youth leaders and youth organizations, which intervened in the case to defend the inclusive policy. “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.”

The Human Rights Campaign also issued a statement praising today's action. “This is a critical victory for transgender students throughout the United States,” said Robin Maril, HRC associate legal director. “Again and again, federal courts have affirmed the right of students to use facilities that align with their gender identity, and this latest decision by the Supreme Court to reject an appeal to overturn Boyertown’s policy affirms that pattern of equality under the law for all students, regardless of gender identity. The fight is far from over, and from the ballot box to the courts, we will never stop advocating on behalf of transgender and nonbinary students.”

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Tags: News, Transgender

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