Supreme Court Does Good Thing For Trans Kids, So ... Surprise!
Our fascist Supreme Court did something good?!
We're as surprised as you are, but yes, yes they did. (Well, technically, they did nothing, but in this case nothing was a good thing!)
Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied cert in Parents for Privacy v. Barr, rejecting an appeal from transphobic parents in Dallas School District No. 2 in Oregon. The parents were challenging a school district policy intended to accommodate and protect the civil rights of trans students.
The Court's dismissal of the appeal leaves in place the western Oregon school district's policy that allowed a male transgender student to use the bathroom and locker room that corresponded with his gender identity.
Yay! Something good!
Dallas, Oregon, is a small agricultural town near Salem with a population of about 15,000. In 2015, a student who had been assigned female at birth came out as trans and requested to use the boys' bathroom. In response, the local school district came up with a plan that allowed him to use private stalls within the boys' restrooms and locker rooms.
The student used the facilities corresponding with his gender identity without incident until he graduated in 2018. But terrible people just can't help but be terrible people and a group of parents sued.
The bigoted pieces of shit who seeking to force a boy to use girls' facilities in a public school argued — with no irony — that accommodating transgender students violated students' rights to privacy and resulted in sexual harassment and discrimination.
Because SCOTUS refused to hear the case, a Ninth Circuit decision upholding the policy remains in place. In that opinion, the west coast federal appellate court noted the school district's policy was intended to "avoid discrimination and ensure the safety and well-being of transgender students."
And, as the Ninth Circuit held,
"A policy that allows transgender students to use school bathroom and locker facilities that match their self-identified gender in the same manner that cisgender students utilize those facilities does not infringe Fourteenth Amendment privacy or parental rights or First Amendment free exercise rights, nor does it create actionable sex harassment[.]
The three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit relied heavily on a shockingly great case SCOTUS gave us less than six months ago (even though it feels like it was about 200 years ago, or at least three Bearimies).
Last summer, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County that, for the first time, recognized that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is, in fact, discrimination "on the basis of sex" and violates federal civil rights law. Although Bostock was about employment discrimination and not bathrooms, a lot of the legal analysis around the issues remains the same.
Just as the Fourth Circuit noted when it ruled in favor of Gavin Grimm (If you need a Wonk-reminder on that case, click here):
"After the Supreme Court's recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, we have little difficulty holding that a bathroom policy precluding [Gavin] Grimm from using the boys restrooms discriminated against him 'on the basis of sex.' Although Bostock interprets Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it guides our evaluation of claims under Title IX. That is because the discriminator is necessarily referring to the individual's sex to determine incongruence between sex and gender, making sex a but-for cause for the discriminator's actions."Surprisingly, none of the bigots and religious zealots on the Court penned an angry dissent or even noted a dissent for the record.
The ACLU, which intervened in the suit to defend the school district's policy, celebrated the decision as a message that "transgender youth are not a threat to other students." Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU's LGBT & HIV Project, said:
"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."
That SCOTUS left the lower court's decision in place means that it remains binding precedent for all of the states within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit, the largest of our federal appellate courts: California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska. This should mean good things for trans students in all those states!
It's really weird for us to be saying this right now, but hell, let's just go for it: Thanks, SCOTUS!
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