Ohio judge tells district to give transgender student access to girls' bathroom

Sept. 27, 2016
Highland district sued U.S. Department of Education over federal directive that schools should let students use bathrooms that match their gender identity.

A federal judge has ordered an Ohio school district to treat a transgender student as a girl and to let her to use the girls bathroom at her elementary school.

The ruling also stated that the Highland Local School District must treat the 11-year-old student, a biologically male student who identifies as female, as "the girl she is."

The Associated Press reports that Judge Algenon L. Marbley issued his ruling after presiding at a hearing last week on a lawsuit the district brought against the U.S. Department of Education over its directives on treatment of transgender students.

The district was seeking to block the federal agency from imposing sanctions for failing to follow the department's directives on treatment of transgender students. At the same time, the student, whose identity has not been disclosed, was seeking a court injunction ordering the school district to allow her to use her female name and the girls’ bathroom.

Marbley concluded that the student is likely to win her equal-protection claim and that she would suffer irreparable harm without a ruling against the school district. The girl has attempted suicide and stopped going to the individual-user bathroom offered by the school because of bullying by students, The Columbus Dispatch reports.

"Districts that have encountered these very issues have been able to integrate transgender students fully into the academic and social community without disruption, and certainly without the doomsday scenarios Highland predicts, such as sexual predators entering an elementary-school restroom," he wrote.

Marbley said the district provided no evidence that other students would be harmed by the student using the girls' bathroom.

The school district, which covers parts of Delaware, Knox and Morrow counties, argued that how it treats tstudents should be based on their gender as recorded at birth. The suit challenged the education department's determination that the district's transgender policy violated Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal money.

The U.S. Justice and Education departments sent letters to school districts in May instructing that transgender students be allowed to use bathrooms, showers and locker rooms matching their gender identity. Districts that violate the directive could lose federal education funding.

A a lawsuit filed by Texas and at least 11 other states also is challenging the federal government's guidance on transgender students. federal district judge in Texas has issued an injunction that has blocked enforcement of the federal transgender student policy.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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