Transgender Locker Room Use Prompts Lawsuit

Photo credit: Mesabi Daily News

A Virginia transgender high school student’s use of the girls locker room has now triggered  a lawsuit and has made the Minnesota town the focus in the national debate over transgender rights.

The Virginia school district, along with the federal education and justice departments, is being sued by a group of parents who are telling them to rescind the school district’s policy to allow transgender students to use locker rooms and bathrooms that correlate with their gender identities.  The parents added that the federal rule that requires schools to view gender identity is against the law.

A group of parents and students, called “Privacy Matters” filed the lawsuit in September and argue that permitting transgender students puts the other students at risk when a biological male student uses a locker room alongside their biological female students. Ten families in the school district comprise “Privacy Matters.”

The lawsuit said, “No student should be forced to use private facilities at school, like locker rooms and restrooms with students of the opposite sex.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the transgender student.  The ACLU’s motion maintains that a student should be allowed to use restrooms that are in line with their gender identity and have a right “to access facilities consistent with her gender identity on a nondiscriminatory basis.”

The motion states, “The parents seek to take away her right to be an ordinary high school girl, marginalizing and segregating her from her classmates and teammates.”  The transgender student is currently a sophomore at Virginia High School.

A directive from the Obama administration states that transgender students should be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correlate with their gender identities or risk federal funding.  As a result, nationally, schools are grappling with privacy and student rights as they attempt to accommodate students who are transitioning between genders while in school.

Last year, the Virginia school district changed its policy that barred the transgender student from using the girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms to align with the federal rule, the lawsuit states.  This change in policy caused distress among the girls using the facilities alongside the transgender student.

According to the lawsuit, students who had to deal with the locker room behavior of the transgender student, which included questioning a girl about her bra size, dancing to sexually explicit music and changing clothes near girls who wanted privacy.  The ACLU motion claims that this is an example of “salacious phrasing” for behaviors normal for a teenage girl.

Ben Feist, ACLU for Minnesota spokesperson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “We’re surprised that this person is singled out for just being transgender.”