A Pennsylvania high school boy, aided by a major conservative Christian legal group, sued his school district on Tuesday in federal court, seeking to end a policy that allows a transgender student to share the gymnasium locker room.
The boy claims in the suit against the Boyertown Area School District, about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia, that his privacy was violated and that he suffered “embarrassment and humiliation” from sharing the locker room with the trans student. The suit, which seeks compensatory damages and an end the district policy, was filed by the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom on the boy’s behalf.
Read the full complaint below.
The school district allows students to use restrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities that correspond with with their gender identity rather than their anatomical sex.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, known for litigation opposing LGBTQ rights, marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws. has filed similar lawsuits elsewhere, according to Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Tobin said the suit is “clearly trying to paint a picture that schools which simply treat students equally are creating this terrible harm,” and claims “people who oppose the equal participation of transgender people in society are the ones being victimized.”
Tuesday’s filing “looks like a carbon copy” of lawsuits Alliance Defending Freedom and other groups have filed in the past, Tobin told HuffPost. “It’s thin on evidence of why it’s harmful to the plaintiff, and it’s inconsistent with the case law out there.”
A similar suit filed in North Carolina was voluntarily dismissed, while another in Ohio failed and is under appeal, Tobin said.
““It’s thin on evidence of why it’s harmful to the plaintiff, and it’s inconsistent with the case law out there.””
The Pennsylvania suit says the plaintiff, identified only as “Joel Doe,” complained to the principal about a “girl” in the locker room, and was told to be tolerant and treat the situation as naturally as possible. The school’s response “marginalized and shamed Joel Doe” and forced him to have his privacy violated lest he be considered a bully, the suit says.
The boy claims “unconsented exposure to persons of the opposite sex in various states of undress creates a sexually harassing, hostile environment,” violating his rights under federal Title IX law that prohibits sex discrimination.
Lawyers for the Pennsylvania-based Independence Law Center, which is aligned with the ADF and is supporting the lawsuit, said policies like Boyerstown’s favor the rights of transgender students at the expense of everyone else.
“My client is standing up not only for himself, but for those who feel bullied,” Randall Wenger, Independence Law Center’s chief counsel, said in a press conference. “It’s an egregious violation for the school to just brush off these students and tell them their feelings don’t matter and to make it as natural as they possibly can.”
The school district didn’t respond to requests for comment. The district has until April 4 answer the lawsuit.