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Supreme Court Won’t Hear Challenges To PA School’s Transgender Policies

The United States Supreme Court refused to issue a writ of certiorari for a case regarding challenges to a Pennsylvania school district’s policies granting protections for transgender students.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Students from Boyertown Area School District in central Pennsylvania put forward a challenge to a policy in their schools that allowed transgender students to use restrooms or locker rooms that corresponded to their gender identity. The students who sued the district claimed that their privacy rights were being violated because of the rule, and argued further that the policy was effectively sexual harassment in violation of Title IX.

“Forcing a teenager to share a locker room or restroom with a member of the opposite sex can cause embarrassment and distress,” the plaintiffs alleged, NBC News reported.

Lawyers representing Boyertown Area schools disagreed, stating the district believed “that transgender students should have the right to use school bathroom and locker facilities on the same basis as non-transgender students.” To bolster their case, they included an image of a transgender student named Aidan DeStefano who graduated from the district last year, according to reporting from CNN.

By dismissing the case outright, the Court effectively leaves in place a lower court ruling that determined the policy should remain.

The debate will likely continue well into the future, as this case merely examines one policy by a single district that is proactively providing support for transgender students. Other challenges could come about in the years to come, including challenges from transgender students to districts with more restrictive rules.

Under the administration of former President Barack Obama, a Department of Education policy guided districts toward opting for inclusion within schools, encouraging administrators to put into place rules that would allow transgender students to use facilities that corresponded with their gender identities. In February 2017, however, the Trump administration announced it would be rescinding those guidelines, according to reporting from The Economist at the time.



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