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Published On: Wed, Dec 10th, 2014

Student privacy and safety concerns remain with transgender bathrooms in schools

Alliance Defending Freedom sent an email to public school districts nationwide to advise them of a recommended policy and letter that protects the physical safety and privacy of students in restrooms and locker rooms while providing a solution for school officials concerned about students struggling with their sexual identity. ADF also sent a special letter to Gloucester County Public Schools in Virginia because it plans to vote Dec. 9 on whether to adopt a policy that would open up restrooms and changing areas to members of the opposite sex.

photo Marcus Werthmann

photo Marcus Werthmann

The ADF letters explain that, contrary to what some mistakenly believe, no federal law requires public schools to allow boys into girls’ restrooms or girls into boys’ restrooms. In fact, schools and school districts could be exposing themselves to legal liability for violating students’ privacy rights and placing children in potentially unsafe conditions.

“Schools have a duty to protect the privacy, safety, and dignity of all students,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “No child should be forced into an intimate setting – like a bathroom or a locker room – with a child of the opposite sex. Our model policy provides a solution that prevents children from being exposed to threats to their privacy and safety and prevents schools from being exposed to liability.”

“Our recommended policy demonstrates that schools can accommodate the desires of a small number of students without compromising the rights of other children and their parents,” added ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “Any privacy and safety policy should respect all children because every child matters. No policy should be tailored to a few students at the expense of all the others.”

The ADF letter accompanying the model policy cites pertinent legal precedent, including court rulings that support the ability of public schools to restrict restrooms to members of the same sex for privacy and safety reasons without violating Title IX, a federal law concerning sex discrimination in public school programs and activities.

“Allowing students to use opposite-sex restrooms and locker rooms would seriously endanger students’ privacy and safety, undermine parental authority, violate religious students’ right of conscience, and severely impair an environment conducive to learning,” the ADF letter states. “These dangers are so clear-cut that a school district allowing such activity would clearly expose itself – and its teachers – to tort liability. Consequently, school districts should reject polices that force students to share restrooms and locker rooms with members of the opposite sex.”

“We advise school districts to adopt the attached policy regarding students’ use of restrooms and changing areas instead,” the letter continues. “It not only accommodates transgender students, but also protects other students’ privacy and free exercise rights, and parents’ right to educate their children, as well as insulates school districts from legal liability. If a school district adopts our model policy and it is challenged in court, Alliance Defending Freedom will review the facts and if appropriate offer to defend that district free of charge.”

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  1. P.J.Malone says:

    In your article on Transgender students using the toilet facilities was very inaccurate.

    You should know up front that somewhere over 200 cities, counties and states have laws on the books similar to the policies you discuss here. Many for years, a few for decades. Minneapolis passed theirs in 1975. The things you claim as dangers just do not happen.

    The ADF is partially right in claiming that no federal law requires schools to allow students to use the restrooms of their choice. There is nothing spelled out but title IX says: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance…”
    20 U.S.C. § 1681″.

    ADF continues by claiming that schools could be sued for violation of other students’ rights.

    They can try. Courts in many places across the country have already tried similar cases and always found for the district and the individuals involved.

    http://www.worldmag.com/2014/12/department_of_education_title_ix_applies_to_transgender_students

    http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2014/04/department-education-title-ix-protects-transgender-students

    Plus a lot more but you can do your own research online.

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