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Published On: Tue, May 10th, 2016

ADF joins lawyers fighting Michigan schools over bathroom, locker room privacy

Alliance Defending Freedom and more than 20 attorneys licensed to practice law in Michigan sent a letter Friday to the Michigan State Board of Education asking it to reject a proposed guidance document that advises schools to adopt policies allowing children to use restrooms of the opposite sex. The letter provides a suggested policy that addresses the board’s concerns without opening restrooms, showers, and locker rooms to opposite-sex usage.

This image is from a collection commissioned by the United States Department of Transportation and designed by AIGA.

This image is from a collection commissioned by the United States Department of Transportation and designed by AIGA.

The letter explains that no federal law requires schools to allow boys into girls’ restrooms and locker rooms or vice-versa. In fact, federal courts have almost uniformly upheld school policies requiring students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their biological sex. The letter also warns that the board’s proposed guidance for schools in Michigan could result in schools exposing themselves to legal liability for violating the right of students to bodily privacy. On Wednesday, more than 50 families sued an Illinois school district for violating the privacy rights of students there because of the district’s restroom and locker room policy.

“Protecting young children from inappropriate exposure to members of the opposite sex is not only legal, it’s an important duty of officials who watch over our children,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “Letting boys into girls’ restrooms and locker rooms is an invasion of privacy and a threat to children’s safety. The Michigan State Board of Education’s proposed guidance document actually encourages schools to disregard these important privacy and safety concerns in a way that may subject them to liability.”

The ADF letter cites pertinent legal precedent, including court rulings that support the ability of schools to limit restrooms and locker rooms to members of the same sex for privacy and safety reasons without violating Title IX, a federal law concerning sex discrimination at schools and colleges that receive federal education funds. Title IX and its regulations specifically state that a school receiving federal funds can “provide separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex” without putting that funding at risk.

The Michigan State Board of Education is accepting comments from the public regarding its proposed guidance document until May 11, 2016.

“Ultimately, ADF opposes the proposed guidance document because no child should be forced into an intimate setting—like a bathroom or a locker room—with a person of the opposite sex,” added ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “That commonsense premise is why Title IX specifically allows single-sex restrooms and changing areas.”

 

photo Marcus Werthmann

photo Marcus Werthmann

 

 

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