In a major victory announced today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling which found that Dallas High School’s practice of allowing a transgender boy to use the boys’ restrooms and locker rooms does not violate the rights of cisgender students or parents.
The recent court decision affirms the ruling of the United States District Court in Oregon which stated that schools are not only permitted, but required, to treat transgender students equally under the law.
Years in the Making
Our fight has been years in the making. In 2018, we began working with our partners at the ACLU of Oregon to defeat this lawsuit targeting transgender students in the Dallas school district.
“The Dallas School District has done the right thing all along, following the law that allows transgender students the right to use the bathroom or locker room that most closely aligns with their gender identity. This simple act provides a more supportive and affirming learning environment,” said Nancy Haque, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon. “We’re thrilled that the court has yet again ruled with a clear message: Protect Trans Kids.”
We’ve Seen This Before
As Gabriel Arkles, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV Project, explains, “I’m relieved, but not surprised, that the court did the right thing. There is just no legal basis for what the other side wants: mandated discrimination against trans students. In a time when we see attacks on trans youth around the country, from here in Oregon to Connecticut and South Dakota, it’s more important than ever to work together to defend our communities.”
Claims similar to the ones the plaintiffs brought in this case have been rejected by courts around the country. Courts have repeatedly concluded that federal civil rights laws protect transgender students against discrimination, including in the context of restroom and locker room use. In May 2019, the Supreme Court declined to review a similar case, allowing policies supporting transgender students to continue.
We’ll Never Stop Fighting For Trans Kids
“I’ve seen the positive impact when schools are affirming places for trans kids,” said Joy Wilson, a Portland mother of a transgender 11-year-old girl and member of the Fierce Families. “This decision is one more message to all the trans kids out there that we see you, we hear you, and we support you.”
This victory wouldn’t have been possible without our supporters and legal partners. Thanks to the ACLU of Oregon, the ACLU National, and Lane Powell LLP for their hard work on this. We also thank the numerous groups who filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of the rights of transgender students including transgender students and school administrators from around the country, the State of Oregon, the National Education Association, PFLAG, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Academy of Pediatrics, GLSEN, and the National Women’s Law Center.
“We are proud of the Court’s clear decision today,” said Darin Sands, partner at Lane Powell. “Transgender students deserve to know that the legal system will protect them when their rights are under attack. The ACLU is on the frontline of this defense on a daily basis and it is an honor to stand with them and Basic Rights Oregon.”
With this major victory, it’s apparent that the law is on the side of transgender Oregonians. And we will always see, support, and affirm trans kids, no matter what.
Tyler Warner, a transgender high school student from Sutherlin, Oregon, who was the target of a lawsuit by the same group, made the three-hour trip to Portland with his mother to watch the court arguments last summer.
After the judges adjourned, he shared his story outside of the courthouse. “I want every trans kid in Oregon to know that they have rights. Being segregated into a single-user bathroom isn’t ok.”