COLUMBUS, Ohio — An appeals court has ruled that a male student who identifies as female must be allowed to use the girls’ restroom at school while the district’s lawsuit against the Obama administration moves forward in court.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s injunction on Thursday that mandates that the 11-year-old student be allowed to use the girls’ restroom, and refused to lift the restraining order as requested by the Highland Local School District.
“The record establishes that Doe, a vulnerable eleven-year-old with special needs, will suffer irreparable harm if prohibited from using the girls’ restroom,” the court wrote. “Highland’s exclusion of Doe from the girls’ restrooms has already had substantial and immediate adverse effects on the daily life and well-being of an eleven-year-old child.”
As previously reported, the anonymous student, who attends Highland Elementary School, was born a male. After completing kindergarten, the student’s guardian advised school officials that the child would now identify as female, and requested that he be referred to as a girl.
The school obliged, but the following year, when the guardian requested that the child be allowed to use the girls’ facilities, officials declined. They instead offered single occupancy rooms for the boy out of privacy and decency concerns for the other students.
But the guardian of the child was unhappy that the school would not grant the boy access to the girls’ facilities and filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The department then ordered the district to accommodate the child, citing Title IX of the Civil Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination based on sex.
It sent a proposed resolution agreement, which among other aspects, required that “all its policies, guidelines, procedures, regulations, and related documents and materials” be changed to accommodate transgender students, and that the new policies be sent to the Department for review and approval. Training was also mandated for all staff.
However, the district refused the resolution and filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, asserting that they are misinterpreting Title IX.
In September, U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley, appointed to the bench by then-President Bill Clinton, ruled in favor of the student, stating that he could see no harm in allowing the boy to use the girls’ restroom.
“The court orders school district officials to treat Jane Doe as the girl she is, including referring to her by female pronouns and her female name and allowing her to use the girls’ restroom at Highland Elementary School,” he declared.
The district appealed the injunction to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, but this past week, the court said that the restraining order must remain in place while the case proceeds as the boy had attempted suicide over the matter, and is now happy since being allowed to use his preferred restroom.
“[S]taying the injunction would disrupt the significant improvement in Doe’s health and well-being that has resulted from the injunction, further confuse a young girl with special needs who would no longer be allowed to use the girls’ restroom, and subject her to further irreparable harm,” it asserted in a 2-1 opinion.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represented the district in court, expressed disappointment.
“Allowing boys in girls’ restrooms completely disregards the privacy needs and rights of all the girls who are rightfully and understandably concerned,” ADF legal counsel Doug Wardlow told reporters. “Young boys should not be allowed in girls’ locker rooms or restrooms.”