The Supreme Court will decide if transgender public school students must be allowed to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, not their biological sex.
According to The Washington Post, the justices agreed on Friday to hear a suit brought by Gloucester County, VA, challenging guidelines issued by the Department of Education earlier this year. Those guidelines cite federal law banning sex discrimination in public schools as the basis for extending to transgender students the right to use bathrooms that match the gender they identify with.
In its petition, the Gloucester board argues that the guidelines' position is extreme and the public was not given enough time and information to comment.
The case began as a lawsuit by a 17-year-old student against the Gloucester County School Board. This summer, an appeals court sided with the student, who identifies as a male but was born female, in a bid to be allowed to use the boys locker room. In August, the Supreme Court granted a stay to the school board, saying it did not have to comply with the ruling while the court decided if it would take up the case.
Transgender students and their advocates contend that being forced to use the bathroom of their biological sex violates their civil rights and is harmful to their emotional and physical well-being. Opponents say laws that let students use the restroom that don't correspond with their sex at birth go against basic values and privacy.
The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a friend of the court brief in the case.
In a statement, Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb said: “Schools have a duty to protect the privacy and safety of all students. That’s a compelling reason for the Supreme Court to review the Fourth Circuit’s decision in this case, especially when other courts—including the 4th Circuit itself previously—have upheld that principle."
"In light of the right to bodily privacy, federal law should not be twisted to require that a male be given access to the girls’ facilities, or a female to the boys’ facilities. The Supreme Court should reverse the Fourth Circuit’s ruling, which is out of step with the law and previous federal court precedent.”