A school district in Shelby, Ohio, says it will not change its policy allowing transgender students to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity. The decision came despite opposition from members of the local community and a large group of Ohio clergy.
Frontlines Ohio reports that the Shelby City School Board gave no public notification they were allowing transgender students into opposite-sex restrooms, even after several recent incidents sparked outrage among parents and other concerned citizens.
Some of the residents expressed privacy and safety issues to the board, reminding them of the incident in 2021 in which a female student was sexually assaulted in a Loudoun County, Virginia high school girl's bathroom by a biological teen boy who was wearing a skirt.
More than 100 Ohio-area clergy also sent a letter to Shelby school officials calling for the district to revert back to the status quo of biological restrooms, according to the outlet.
"It is our expectation School Administration have a zero-tolerance policy to incidents of misconduct in school restrooms, locker rooms, and showers. As clergy, we will not sacrifice the safety and privacy of children on the altar of political correctness," the letter said.
In addition, several residents who attended the meeting asked the board to reverse its policy.
Many of them cited concern for student comfort and safety and said they would like the district to require transgender students to use a single, gender-neutral restroom, according to Richland Source. At present, there are three gender-neutral restrooms open to students at the high school.
"I do not want to walk into a restroom and be scared about who I will see in there," one 12-year-old girl told the board during the designated public forum time during the meeting. "Girls spend more time in the restroom and are more vulnerable."
Life Church Pastor Anthony Cooper told the board the community would support them if they reversed the bathroom policy.
"We're not here to fight against you, but we are here to protect our children," he said. "I'm here to let you know that you have our support, if you will stand up against this."
"Being politically correct is not always correct; there is agenda behind politics. We need answers," Cooper added. "If you cannot protect the security and privacy of our students, I am calling for you (board members) to resign. We could easily get the churches to start another school and take our kids out of Shelby schools. This is our town too."
School Board President Lorie White told those in attendance the district could face lawsuits if the current policy is changed.
"The board must make decisions based on legal, moral, financial, and public relation considerations. We (the school board) have to make decisions based on things beyond our personal convictions," White said. "There are no plans to change the (restrooms) process now."
White also encouraged residents to contact school board members with questions and concerns.
"We want to work with your cisgender students as well as our transgender students. So please, please don't be afraid to give us a call and talk to us about our processes," she said.
Appeals Court Rules in Favor of FL District That Blocked Trans Student from Boy's Bathroom
But a new legal development may have a future impact on the Ohio school board's and other school boards' bathroom policies. A federal appeals court has ruled that a Florida school district's policy of separating school bathrooms based on biological sex is constitutional.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced its 7-4 decision on Friday, ruling that the St. Johns County School Board did not discriminate against transgender students based on sex, or violate federal civil rights law by requiring transgender students to use gender-neutral bathrooms or bathrooms matching their biological sex.
The court's decision was split down party lines, with seven justices appointed by Republican presidents siding with the school district and four justices appointed by Democratic presidents siding with Drew Adams, a former student who sued the district in 2017 because he wasn't allowed to use the boys' restroom.
A three-judge panel from the appeals court previously sided with Adams in 2020, but then the full appeals court decided to take up the case.
Judge Barbara Lagoa wrote in the majority opinion that the school board policy advances the important governmental objective of protecting students' privacy in school bathrooms. She said the district's policy does not violate the law because it's based on biological sex, not gender identity.
Judge Jill Pryor wrote in a dissenting opinion that the interest of protecting privacy is not absolute and must coexist alongside fundamental principles of equality, saying that exclusion implies inferiority.
There was no word if Adams would appeal the court's decision.
Two other federal appeals courts have ruled that transgender students can use bathrooms in accordance with their chosen identities, according to Fox News.
The 11th Circuit's decision could mean the issue may ultimately end up being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
***Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***
The Bible says that children are a blessing from the Lord. Do you have questions about children, parenting, discipline, or family life? CBN has wonderful resources for you!
Need prayer? We’re available 24/7. Call (800) 700-7000 or request prayer.Learn why Truth Matters at CBN News.
Did you know?
God is everywhere—even in the news. That’s why we view every news story through the lens of faith. We are committed to delivering quality independent Christian journalism you can trust. But it takes a lot of hard work, time, and money to do what we do. Help us continue to be a voice for truth in the media by supporting CBN News for as little as $1.