The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Trans High School Students Sue School District Over Restroom Ban

Restroom signs

Two transgender students at Terre Haute North High School have filed a lawsuit against an Indiana school district after its employees denied them access to restrooms that fit their gender identity.

The suit against Vigo County School Corp was filed on Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and Indiana Legal Services.

Other issues raised in the suit include teachers continuing to use feminine pronouns in reference to the teens and the principal refusing to allow their names to be listed in the yearbook, making them have to be listed under their birth names.

The lawsuit states that preventing the teens from using the correct restrooms and refusing to recognize their correct names and pronouns violate both the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.

“Denying a student their right to use the correct restroom is discrimination, plain and simple,” said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana Legal Director, in a press release. “Schools should be a safe place for kids and the refusal to allow a student to use the correct restroom can be extremely damaging.”

“There are a lot of transgender kids in Indiana,” Falk told local TV station WTHI. “There are a lot of schools systems refusing to recognize them as having gender dysphoria. There are a lot of kids who are suffering. I think it's the hope of these two young men that not only can they get some remedy for themselves but they can help educate schools to do not just the right thing but do what is required by the law.” 

“The law gives transgender students the same opportunities as their peers to learn, grow, and succeed at school,” said Kathleen Bensberg, Staff Attorney with the LGBT Project at Indiana Legal Services. “We look forward to working with ACLU to represent these students in this case.”  

Attorneys for the boys are seeking a preliminary injunction to have the boys be allowed to use the male restrooms.

The suit filed Monday is only the latest filed to protect the rights of trans students in the U.S. State legislatures have drafted or passed bills to prohibit trans youth from participating in sports or from necessary gender-affirming healthcare, and schools have often done no better in creating safe and accepting learning environments for their trans students.

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