Joel Doe v. Boyertown Area School District
Case Concerning Restroom Access for Transgender StudentsKey Date: May 24, 2018
Status: 3rd Circuit Victory Could Face SCOTUS Review
Legal Team: ACLU of Pennsylvania
Type: Discrimination Targeting Transgender Students
Doe v. Boyertown is a case concerning discrimination based on gender identity or expression in schools. Boyertown Area High School in Pennsylvania has long had a policy respecting the gender identity of transgender students – but in 2017 an anti-LGBTQ organization filed a lawsuit challenging this policy, on behalf of several non-transgender students, who claim their privacy is threatened by transgender students using the restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.
This case is about respecting transgender students for who they are and is a part of the growing legislative and legal momentum against restricting restroom access for transgender Americans.
The transgender-inclusive policy in the case is being defended by the ACLU of Pennsylvania. The anti-LGBTQ Alliance Defending Freedom brought the case.
Latest in the Case:
Oral argument occurred before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit for May 24, 2018 in Philadelphia. The panel of judges took only 30 minutes to rule, and decided in favor of the district, upholding their transgender-inclusive bathroom policy. Listen to audio of the judgment.
A formal ruling on June 18, 2018 was slightly revised when the en banc 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals was asked to review the case. The 3rd Circuit denied en banc rehearing while the original panel issued a revised ruling. The core of the decision – that transgender-inclusive policies in schools do not violate anyone’s privacy – remains.
The Alliance Defending Freedom has indicated that it may seek review from the U.S. Supreme Court.
- August 26, 2017: U.S. District Court Judge Edward G. Smith denies the Alliance Defending Freedom’s motion for preliminary injunction, following several months of legal proceedings and hearings on the case.
- September 26, 2017: Alliance Defending Freedom announces it will appeal the ruling to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
- May 24, 2018: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit hears oral argument in the case in Philadelphia. The panel of judges takes only 30 minutes to rule and unanimously decides in favor of the district, upholding their transgender-inclusive bathroom policy.
- June 18, 2018: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit publishes its formal opinion in the case, rejecting the plaintiffs’ claims that transgender-inclusive policies violate anyone’s privacy. The panel also goes further, saying that the school district’s trans-affirming policy is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments.
- July 26, 2018: The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit denied the losing school district’s request for en banc rehearing. Simultaneously, the original 3-judge panel issued a revised ruling in the case. The revised ruling keeps in place the core of the previously issued decision from May but walks back slightly the previously-issued decision’s determination that the school’s trans-affirming policy was required by Title IX, finding that the facts of the case did not require a determination on this question.
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