Central PA's LGBT News Source

Boyertown Schools' policy stands

Supreme Court allows positive trans ruling to stand

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The Supreme Court on May 27 left in place a lower court ruling made a year ago in favor of Boyertown School district’s policy allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

Based in Harrisburg, PA Youth Congress participated in the case with the school district and transgender students within the school.

“We’re absolutely thrilled that the Supreme Court chose not to review the case,” PA Youth Congress founder and executive director Jason Landau Goodman told Central Voice following the announcement of the court’s decision.

The case arose when six Boyertown students said the transgender-inclusive policy violated their privacy rights and constituted sexual harassment in violation of Title IX, a federal law that bars discrimination based on sex in educational institutions that receive federal funds. The high court let the lower court’s decision stand without also issuing any comment.

In court papers, lawyers for the plaintiffs – Pennsylvania Family Institute and their affiliated Independent Law Center - argued that "forcing a teenager to share a locker room or restroom with a member of the opposite sex can cause embarrassment and distress."

Lawyers for the school district said they decided to allow transgender students to use facilities that aligned with 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."

Goodman told Central Voice, “The high court’s decision is a bell weather to other Pennsylvania school districts who now know that should they pass similar policies, and those policies are challenged in court, the challengers are likely to lose.”

Under the Obama administration the departments of Education and Justice issued guidance to school districts that recommended that schools allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that matched their gender identity.

But the Trump administration withdrew that guidance. Guidance is just that – a suggested guide – and not a law or a regulation with the force of law.

“This is a positive ending,” Goodman said.