Judge rules for district
Students sued, saying policy for transgender student use of bathrooms, locker rooms violated privacy
Just in time for the start of school Aug. 28, a federal judge has sided with the Boyertown Area School District in a lawsuit involving its policy for transgender student use of bathrooms and locker rooms.
According to a report from WFMZ Aug. 25, Judge Edward G. Smith denied a request for a preliminary injunction as part of a lawsuit filed against the school district by four students whose names have been withheld to protect their identity.
The students argued that allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice at the high school violated their right to privacy. The judge ruled on Friday, Aug. 25, the plaintiffs had failed to show that their claims of invasion of privacy and sexual harassment warranted relief by the court.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which provided attorneys for the plaintiffs, told WFMZ it is consulting with its clients before deciding whether to appeal the judge’s ruling.
An attempt to reach David Krem, Boyertown’s acting school’s superintendent, was unsuccessful.
Earlier this month, the four students who filed the suit argued in court that Boyertown never made its policy public, and that encountering a transgender student in the locker room made them feel
embarrassed and uncomfortable, according to published reports.
According to the website of the Alliance Defending Freedom, the plaintiffs are two girls and two boys, one of whom was standing in his underwear in the boys’ locker room when he looked up to see a transgender student who identifies as a male standing nearby, also in underwear.
The ruling was hailed as a victory by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is among several groups that were involved in the legal proceeding on the school district’s side. And the ruling followed their predictions made earlier in the month.
“No court has granted an injunction like the one sought by the plaintiffs,” Ria Tabacco Mar, staff attorney for the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project said in an Aug. 11 statement.
“Those who brought this lawsuit must show that a ruling in their favor will do more good than harm. But such a ruling would greatly harm transgender students,” Mar said.
“Transgender students should have the opportunity to learn in an environment where they feel safe. We are grateful that the court agreed that the plaintiffs’ desire to stop what the district is doing had no grounding in legal principles,” Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, told WFMZ.
“The stakes in this litigation are high for transgender students at Boyertown. The district’s practice gives them the opportunity to attend school in a respectful and affirming environment,” Mary Catherine Roper, deputy legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said in the Aug. 11 release prior to the court ruling.
“The challenges that teens face are enhanced for transgender students, who are coming to grips with their gender identity,” said Roper.
“No one on any side of this debate is seriously suggesting that children struggling with their biological sex shouldn’t also have privacy. In fact, ADF and many others have been actively advocating for compassionate solutions that respect the privacy of all students,” reads an Aug. 10 statement posted on the Alliance website.
“In fact, setting aside the urgency of the relentless media spotlights and the noisy impatience of the professional social agitators, we find plenty of thoughtful people on all sides of these thorny issues who are more than willing to think through the problems and work out reasonable solutions,” the Alliance statement read.
The case has put Boyertown schools in the spotlight of a national debate about the rights of transgender people.
Smith was appointed to the federal bench on Aug. 1, 2013 by President Obama.