‘No student’s recognized right to bodily privacy should be made contingent on what other students believe about their own gender…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) The Supreme Court decided on Tuesday to leave in place a Pennsylvania policy that allows transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.
The case made its way to the Supreme Court after a group of students and parents from the Boyertown Area School District filed suit when its high school opened locker rooms, showers and restrooms to students of the opposite sex without any warning.
The students argued the policy violates their privacy rights and can be considered sexual harassment under Title IX, a federal law that bans discrimination based on gender.
The court, however, decided not to hear the case, issuing its ruling without comment and upholding the lower court’s decision that allows the policy to remain intact.
Lawyers for the students argued that “forcing a teenager to share a locker room or restroom with a member of the opposite sex can cause embarrassment and distress.”
They said the school district’s two-year-old policy reflected “a drastic change from the way locker rooms and restrooms have been regulated for the entire history of public-school systems.”
The school district, however, argued that transgender students should be able to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity because the district “believes that transgender students should have the right to use school bathroom and locker facilities on the same basis as non-transgender students,” according to CNN.
The policy went into effect during the 2016-17 school year and quickly became a problem when several male students discovered a female student changing clothes in the locker room next to them.
When they sought help from school officials, they were told to “tolerate it” and “make it as natural as possible.”
However, normalizing the politicized policy, which many feel is an affront to core religious convictions as well as privacy rights, was a bridge too far for the underage students and their parents.
“Students struggling with their beliefs about gender need compassionate support, but sound reasons based on common sense have always existed for schools to separate male and female teenagers in showers, restrooms, and locker rooms,” said John Bursch, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, which was representing the plaintiffs.
“No student’s recognized right to bodily privacy should be made contingent on what other students believe about their own gender,” Bursch said. “Because the 3rd Circuit’s decision made a mess of bodily privacy and Title IX principles, we believe the Supreme Court should have reviewed it.”