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Tuesday, July 16, 2024 | Back issues
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Supreme Court won’t hear fight over transgender bathrooms

A middle school asked the high court to allow it to block a transgender boy from using the boys’ restroom, even though the teenager no longer attends the school.

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to hear an appeal from an Indiana middle school seeking to block a transgender boy from using the boys’ restroom. 

Identified as A.C. in court documents, the teenage boy at the center of the case socially transitioned when he was nine years old. He began using a boys' name, using masculine pronouns and wearing masculine clothing and hairstyles. A.C. takes medication to suppress endogenous puberty. 

A.C. has been granted a legal name change by Indiana courts, including updating the gender marker on his birth certificate. 

While enrolled in Wooden Middle School in Martinsville, Indiana, A.C.’s family asked the school to allow him to use the boys’ restroom. The school refused, and said A.C. should use the girls’ restroom or a single-user restroom in the health clinic. 

A.C. said neither of the school’s solutions would work, however. If he used the girls’ restroom, it would exacerbate his gender dysphoria. If A.C. used the health clinic bathroom, he would be late to class because of how far it sits from his classrooms. 

Finding his options untenable, A.C. decided to use the boys’ restrooms regardless of the school’s instructions. He did so for three weeks without complaint from his classmates. A staff member then reported him, and he was forced to stop. 

Transgender high school students in Martinsville are allowed to use the restroom of their choice if they meet the school’s gender identity criteria. The school evaluates how long a student has identified as transgender, their diagnosis and continued care, any prescribed hormones, and legal steps to change the student's name. 

A.C. submitted documentation based on the high school’s transgender bathroom policy, but the middle school declined his request. 

A.C. claims Martinsville had violated his Title IX and equal protection rights in denying him access to his preferred restroom. He filed a complaint and asked for a court order blocking the school from denying him access. 

A lower court granted his request, forcing the school to allow A.C. to use boys’ restrooms at the middle school. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. 

Martinsville asked the Supreme Court to intervene, arguing schools across the county are divided over transgender bathroom access. 

“Over the past several years, schools across the country have confronted a difficult decision on which local mores and opinions vary widely:  whether to determine access to traditionally sex-segregated spaces such as bathrooms and locker rooms based on biological sex or on how students identify,” wrote Paul Clement, an attorney with Clement & Murphy representing the school. 

The school says it did not violate Title IX or the Constitution in its denial of A.C.’s bathroom preference request, and if reviewed by another appeals court, that the preliminary injunction would have been denied. 

“The Seventh Circuit’s view has profound implications for all manner of areas in which Title IX permits separation of the sexes so long as there is equal access, including housing, athletics, and historically sex-segregated organizations,” Clement wrote. “It makes no sense to force jurisdictions in the Fourth and Seventh Circuit to abandon longstanding policies or modify decades-old infrastructure while the status quo ante prevails in the Eleventh Circuit.” 

A.C. argued the Supreme Court’s review was unnecessary, particularly because he no longer attended the middle school. Since A.C. no longer has an interest in the school’s policy, he says the court lacked jurisdiction to review the appeal. 

A.C. now attends Martinsville’s high school, which has a transgender bathroom policy. 

“There is nothing to be gained by this court taking up a dispute about a regulation that is about to be changed,” Kenneth Falk, an attorney with the ACLU of Indiana, wrote. “And once the Title IX question is resolved, there may be no need even to take up the constitutional issue.” 

The court did not explain its decision not the hear the case. There were no noted dissents. 

Follow @KelseyReichmann
Categories / Appeals, Civil Rights, Education, Politics

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