PHILADELPHIA, November 20, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The controversy over forcing boys and girls to share restrooms in public schools may finally get a hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court, if the body agrees to a request by the pro-religious liberty firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
At issue is a complaint by four high school students in Boyertown, Pennsylvania who object to being forced to share restrooms and locker rooms with teens who “identify” as a member of the opposite sex. They argue that Boyertown Area School District is violating their privacy rights in the name of transgenderism.
The first complainant, identified as “Joel Doe,” says he was changing in a locker room when he unexpectedly encountered an undressed female student. He reported the October 2016 incident, but was told students could now choose their preferred locker rooms based on their subjective self-identification. Neither parents nor students were given advance notice of the change, according to ADF.
“I was sure they would tell the boy he was wrong for him to be in the girls’ bathroom, but they didn’t. They said this is the way things are going to be,” student Alexis Lightcap, who grew up in the foster system until she was eleven, recalled. “Instead of listening to my concerns, they made me feel like I was the problem for feeling uncomfortable, unsafe, and vulnerable with a boy in my bathroom.”
Regardless, in May a three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected the students’ case after just twenty minutes of deliberation. During oral arguments, U.S. Circuit Judge Theodore McKee telegraphed the panel’s leanings by going so far as to admonish ADF attorney Randall Wenger for using “sex” and “opposite sex” instead of “transgender boy or girl,” because the latter were more “respectful” terms that “enhance[d] the communication.”
On Monday, ADF announced that it’s appealing the 3rd Circuit panel’s ruling to the nation’s highest court.
“The claim is based on petitioners’ own sex, which dictates whom they consent to be with when undressing in a school privacy facility,” ADF argues in its petition to the Supreme Court. “And the claim is based on sex in a more general way because the school’s permission to use a locker room or restroom depends on the sex designation of that facility. Either way, the claim falls within Title IX’s plain language, contrary to the Third Circuit’s conclusion.”
“It is untenable that the Third Circuit made students’ right to bodily privacy contingent on what others believe about their own gender. Recognizing this reality does not diminish the concern for students who believe they are of the opposite sex,” it continues. “Schools can (and should) teach that every student has inherent dignity and worth and should be treated as such, but instead of considering non-intrusive options to do so, Boyertown chose to violate the privacy rights of all other students.”
The left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is opposing ADF in the case, on behalf of transgender Boyertown student Aidan DeStefano and the LGBT coalition Pennsylvania Youth Congress, the Washington Blade reports.
ACLU attorney Ria Tabacco Mar claims the school district merely “chose to be inclusive and welcoming of transgender students,” and ADF’s arguments are “offensive and not supported by the evidence in Boyertown or schools around the country.” She also declared that “transgender people won’t be erased,” invoking a common rallying cry among pro-LGBT activists.
ADF officials strenuously reject any suggestion they want gender-confused students to be made “unwelcome.”
“Everyone should be able to agree that students struggling with their beliefs about gender need compassionate support,” ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch explained. “But there are sound reasons why schools have always separated male and female teenagers in showers, restrooms, and locker rooms. No student’s recognized right to bodily privacy should be made contingent on what other students believe about their own gender. The 3rd Circuit’s decision made a mess of bodily privacy and Title IX principles, and the decision deserves review and reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
It remains to be seen if four justices will vote to have the Supreme Court hear the case. If they do, conservatives hope the addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh will improve their odds.