A transgender teen in Florida has won a three-year legal battle over equal access to restrooms. The US Court of Appeals for the 11 Circuit upheld a lower court ruling in favor of the teen, ordering the school board in St. Johns County to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.
Drew Adams, the teen at the lawsuit’s center, enrolled at Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra back in 2015. The school banned him from using the boys’ bathroom because he was transgender. Instead, he was required to use the girls’ restroom or single-stall bathrooms.
When Adams filed suit in 2017, it was the first trial involving a transgender student’s equal access to restrooms.
Adams won his case in federal court in 2018. However, his school district appealed the following year. Over a dozen major corporations supported Adams’ Title IX claim. Title IX bans sex discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
The Long Legal Battle
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We won (again)! The 11th circuit court of appeals agreed that #TransRightsAreHumanRights in a 2-1 ruling on Friday, setting a precedent for Florida, Georgia, and Alabama Thank you all. #transgender #queer #lgbt #lgbtq #trans #transman #lambdalegal #transpride #protecttranskids #transisbeautiful
“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 William H. Pryor wrote in Friday’s decision. “The evidence at trial confirms that Mr. Adams suffered both these indignities. 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.”
The legal battle may continue if the school district petitions the ruling, NBC News reports. If they decide to continue, they can extend the battle to the full 11th circuit (Florida, Alabama, and Georgia) or the US Supreme court, but both can deny to review the case.
Lambda Legal, the LGBTQ legal group that worked on the case, released a statement on the victory. “Today, the court sent a clear message that schools must treat transgender students with the same dignity and respect as any other student,” said Tara Borelli from Lambda Legal.
“High school is hard enough without having your school separate you from your peers and mark you as inferior,” Adams said “I hope this decision helps save other transgender students from having to go through that painful and humiliating experience.”