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Supreme Court denies challenge to school transgender bathroom policy

May 28, 2019

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it won’t hear a challenge to a Pennsylvania transgender bathroom policy, leaving in place rules that allow transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms of their preference.

Students and parents had sued, arguing their privacy rights were being violated.

A lower court had rejected that claim, and the justices rejected the families’ appeal without comment.

“This is an enormous victory for transgender students across the country,” said Ria Tabacco Mar, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Boyertown Area School District in Pennsylvania had implemented a policy in 2016-2017 to accommodate transgender students without notifying parents or students about the change.

According to Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the students challenging the policy, school officials said to “tolerate it” and “make it as natural as possible.”

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard the case and rejected the parents’ claims, said students don’t have a right to avoid encountering transgender students in bathroom or locker room settings, saying it was “no more offensive to constitutional or Pennsylvania-law privacy interests than the presence of the other students who are not transgender.”

Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel at ADF, said the courts will likely have to confront the issue again.

“These types of school policies have serious privacy implications. That’s why we hope the Supreme Court will eventually weigh in to protect students’ constitutional right to bodily privacy,” she said.

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