Appeals Court Rules Students Must Be Permitted to Use Restroom That Aligns With ‘Gender Identity’

ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Georgia has upheld an injunction against a Florida school district policy that prohibited a female student who identified as male from using the men’s restroom.

“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,” Judge Beverly B. Martin, nominated to the bench by then-President Barack Obama, wrote in the decision.

“The evidence at trial confirms that Mr. Adams suffered both these indignities,” she continued. “The record developed in the district court shows that the school board failed to honor Mr. Adams’s rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX.”

As previously reported, a now-former student at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach who goes by the name Drew Adams filed suit against the St. Johns County School District in 2017 to challenge its restroom use policy as it pertains to those who identify as transgender.

Adams, who began presenting herself as a boy in 2015 and obtained a double mastectomy, used the boys’ restroom at the school for six weeks — until another student lodged a complaint. Officials then advised Adams that she would need to either use the girls’ restroom or a gender neutral facility.

During the trial, while Adams told the court, “I am a boy and I know that with every fiber of my being,” the principal of Nease High School testified that she does not consider the student to be a male.

In July 2018, U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan ruled that the school district had no reason to prohibit Adams from using the boys’ restroom and that she must be “treated like any other boy.”

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“Everyone agrees that boys should use the boys’ restroom at Nease and that girls should use the girls’ restroom. The parties disagree over whether Drew Adams is a boy,” he outlined in his ruling.

“I can only answer that question with the evidence given to me at trial. Drew Adams says he is a boy and has undergone extensive surgery to conform his body to his gender identity; medical science says he is a boy; the State of Florida says so (both Adams’ Florida birth certificate and Florida driver’s license say he is a male); and the Florida High School Athletic Association says so,” he continued, noting that Adams uses the mens’ restroom at all other facilities.

Read the ruling in full here.

Adams

The decision was appealed, and on Friday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to uphold the injunction issued by Corrigan.

“Mr. Adams was … treated differently than non-transgender students generally. If Mr. Adams entered the restroom matching the sex on his legal documents and his gender identity, he faced school discipline. But nontransgender students did not face discipline for restroom use corresponding to their gender identity and their legal documents,” Martin wrote. “… The record leaves no doubt that Mr. Adams suffered harm from this differential treatment.”

“The school board’s bathroom policy, as applied to Mr. Adams, singled him out for different treatment because of his transgender status. It caused him psychological and dignitary harm. We affirm the District Court’s ruling that maintaining this policy violated Title IX,” she concluded.

Judge William Pryor, nominated to the bench by then-President George W. Bush, dissented.

“The majority misunderstands the policy at issue, ignores decades of precedent, dismisses any sex-specific interest in bathroom privacy, and flouts foundational principles of statutory interpretation. In the process, it issues a holding with radical consequences for sex-separated bathrooms,” he wrote. “[T]here is nothing unlawful, under either the Constitution or federal law, about a policy that separates bathrooms for schoolchildren on the basis of sex.”

Read the ruling and dissent here. 

Scripture states in Deuteronomy 22:5, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment.” The Geneva Study Bible adds in its commentary, “For that alters the order of nature, and shows that you despise God.”


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