PITTSBURGH, Pa. — A school district in Pennsylvania has agreed to allow students who identify as the opposite sex to use the restroom that corresponds with their “gender identity.”
“[T]he parties to this litigation desire to settle the issues raised by Plaintiffs’ complaint and subsequent proceedings without the necessity of further litigation,” the consent judgment signed by U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak outlines. “[T]he parties have reached a settlement agreement and consent to entry of the … final and binding consent judgment as dispositive of all issues raised…”
Lamba Legal announced its settlement with the Pine-Richland School District on Tuesday, which less than a year ago had asked the court to dismiss the case in arguing that the organization’s reliance on the Obama administration’s interpretation of federal law was flawed and “contravenes congressional intent as related to Title IX.”
The district has since decided to discontinue the fight to defend its resolution, passed in September, which declared that students must either use the restroom that corresponds with their biological birth sex or the unisex school facilities.
The agreed-upon judgment subsequently reads, “Defendants, their officers, employees, and agents … and all other persons within the scope of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65, are enjoined from enforcing Resolution 2 or any policy, practice, or custom of the Pine-Richland School District and/or Pine-Richland High School that denies transgender students the access and use of restrooms that match a student’s consistently and uniformly asserted gender identity…”
As previously reported, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit against the district last October on behalf of three students—Jacob Evancho, who goes by the name Juliet, Erik Ridenour, who goes by the name Elissa, and a third student who has only identified themselves as A.S.—contending that its restroom requirement violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as well as the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Evancho, who is the brother of youth singing sensation Jackie Evancho, began identifying as a girl two years ago.
The following month, the district asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that Lamda Legal had failed to state a valid Title IX claim.
“The term ‘sex,’ as codified into the Title IX statute and accompanying regulations, refers to a fixed, binary and genetically-determined sex, based on the nature of human reproduction and the irrefutable fact that we are a species of males and females,” attorneys for the district wrote. “Title IX also permits separate facilities to be maintained for the sexes.”
However, Judge Hornak refused to dismiss the lawsuit and instead issued a preliminary injunction in February prohibiting the district from enforcing its policy.
After deciding not to appeal the ruling, the district approved a settlement on July 17 agreeing to allow “transgender” students to use their preferred restroom, according to spokesperson Rachel Hatthorn. The district must also adopt policies in regard to using the preferred pronouns and names of students, and reflecting such information in school records.
“Although Juliet, Elissa and A.S. have now graduated, their courage has opened doors for current and future transgender students at Pine-Richland and elsewhere who will no longer be barred from using the bathroom that matches who they are,” Lambda Legal staff attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan said in a statement.
“The settlement affirms that transgender students, like all students, deserve to be respected for who they are,” he said.
The district has not released a statement on the matter.