The United States Supreme Court today declined to hear Parents for Privacy v. William P. Barr et al, allowing school districts to continue to affirm transgender students by allowing them to use the same restrooms and locker rooms as their peers.

In 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Oregon moved to intervene on behalf of Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) in a case about transgender students’ rights. The case involved a challenge brought to the Dallas School District’s practice of permitting a boy who is transgender to use the same restrooms and locker rooms as other boys. The plaintiffs in the case claimed that merely protecting the rights of transgender students violates the rights of non-transgender students. 

An affirming policy

The lower courts sided with Basic Rights Oregon and the Dallas School District. Today’s cert denial leaves the affirming policy in place. 

Nancy Haque, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon, discussed the outcome:

“We commend the Dallas School District for doing the right thing all along by following the law and allowing transgender students to use the bathroom or locker room that most closely aligns with their gender identity. And now, with yet another affirming victory, we continue the work to protect trans kids.”  

Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, had the following response:

“The Supreme Court has once again said that transgender youth are not a threat to other students. As we look towards state legislative sessions that will likely continue the attacks on trans youth, the decision not to take this case is an important and powerful message to trans and non-binary youth that they deserve to share space with and enjoy the benefits of school alongside their non-transgender peers. We will continue to fight in courts, in legislatures, and in our families and communities to ensure that all trans people feel safe and belong.”

Numerous groups filed friend-of-the-court briefs with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals 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.

Protecting trans students in Oregon and nationwide

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.

For more background on the case, please see:

Photos, credit Doug Brown/ACLU of Oregon, are online here: