Third Circuit Issues Opinion in School Transgender-Bathroom Case

Last month, a three-judge Third Circuit panel announced just minutes after oral arguments that it would affirm a district court’s ruling in favor a school district policy that allowed transgender students to use bathroom and locker room facilities corresponding with their gender identity. This unusually quick decision was partly practical, as the judges explained that they wanted to rule before the students’ graduation date.

This week, the Third Circuit issued its opinion in Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, stating, “Although we amplify the District Court’s reasoning because of the interest in this issue, we affirm substantially for the reasons set forth in the District Court’s opinion.”

In 2016, the Boyertown Area School District decided to implement a trans-inclusive policy that allowed students to use the bathroom and locker room facilities that correspond to their gender identity as opposed to their sex assigned at birth. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sued on behalf of several students who said they felt uncomfortable sharing bathrooms with transgender classmates. ADF argued that the new policy violated the students’ constitutional right to privacy, as well as Title IX, a federal statute that prohibits sex discrimination in education.

The Third Circuit affirmed the district court ruling that under the circumstances, permitting transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity does not violate the “bodily privacy rights” of other students.

See Doe v. Boyertown Area School District on Justia.

Additional Reading

Federal Court Emphatically Shoots Down Anti-Trans Lawsuit in Rare Ruling From the Bench, Slate May 24, 2018

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