Court Rules for Transgender Florida Student on Bathroom Access
Aug 13, 2020
On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling requiring a Jacksonville, Fl. school district to allow transgender students equal access to restrooms that match their gender identity. The suit brought in 2018 by Drew Adams, a biological female who “identifies” as a male, alleged the school district’s policy was in violation of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment as well as the prohibition of discrimination based on sex under Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972.
The 2-1 decision written by U.S. Circuit Judge Beverly Martin heavily relied on the U.S. Supreme Court’s June Bostock vs. Clayton County decision, which found that discrimination based on sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Martin wrote, “A public school may not punish its students for gender nonconformity. Neither may a public school harm transgender students by establishing arbitrary, separate rules for their restroom use.”
Adams expressed appreciation for the decision noting in a statement that he’s “very happy to see justice prevail, after spending almost my entire high school career fighting for equal treatment. High school is hard enough without having your school separate you from your peers and mark you as inferior.”
However, the legal issue should not be determined based on a person’s feelings. In a sharply worded dissent, Judge William Pryor, Chief Judge for the 11th Circuit, contends the majority “distorts the [school board] policy, misunderstands the legal claims asserted, and rewrites well-established precedent. By failing to address head-on the lawfulness of sex-separated bathrooms in schools, the majority recasts the school policy as classifying students on the basis of transgender status.”
The school board has yet to indicate if it will seek an appeal before either an en blanc panel of the 11th Circuit or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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