U.S. Supreme Court passes on transgender school bathroom case


The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a case that would have blocked transgender students from using school bathrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identity.

The high court’s move was hailed as a win for advocates who have wondered if the court’s new conservative majority would make rulings that might threaten LGBT rights.

“The Supreme Court has once again said that transgender youth are not a threat to other students,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, in a statement. “The decision not to take this case is an important and powerful message to trans and non-binary youth that they deserve to share space with and enjoy the benefits of school alongside their non-transgender peers.”

In 2018, the U.S. District court in Portland, Ore., dismissed a case brought by Parents for Privacy, a Dallas, Ore., group that challenged the local school district’s “Student Safety Plan,” saying the new policy violated the privacy rights of cisgender students and staff not to be exposed to transgender children using the bathrooms.

In February, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision, saying that “There is no Fourteenth Amendment fundamental privacy right to avoid all risk of intimate exposure to or by a transgender person who was assigned the opposite biological sex at birth.”

Parents for Privacy argued in their brief to the high court that the school safety plan “interferes with parents’ rights to direct the upbringing of their children, schoolchildren’s rights to bodily privacy, parents’ and children’s rights to free exercise of religion, and children’s rights to be free from hostile educational environments under Title IX.”

Activists have worried that conservative rulings on LGBT issues might be forthcoming from the court, since the shift to a conservative majority with the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

But the court decided to let the lower ruling stand.

“This was a cruel case trying to punish a school district for letting a trans boy use the boys’ locker room and restroom,” Gabriel Arkles, attorney with the New York-based Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund tweeted Monday.
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