Supreme Court Declines School’s Transgender Bathroom Case

The decision by the court on Monday to deny to hear the case means a February 2020 ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Parents for Privacy v. Dallas School District No. 2 will stand.

United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (photo: Ian Hutchinson / Unsplash)

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court this week declined to hear an appeal against an Oregon school district policy allowing students to use the restroom and locker room corresponding to their “gender identity.” 

Previously, students were required to use the facilities which correspond with their biological sex.

The decision by the court on Monday to deny to hear the case means a February 2020 ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Parents for Privacy v. Dallas School District No. 2 will stand. 

The appeals court dismissed the case, and upheld a lower court decision saying that the district bath and changing room policy was legal. 

“The school district policy didn’t violate the privacy rights of other students who object to sharing the spaces” with people of the opposite sex, said the court, adding that failing to accommodate transgender students would be illegal disgrimination.

“Parents for Privacy,” a group of parents and students from Dallas School District in Dallas, Oregon, filed suit against the district in 2017, saying that the policy allowing students to choose which locker room and restroom to use put other students at risk. 

The district argued that the entire appeal against the policy was moot, and no harm could be shown since the policy had been put in place to accomodate a single student who had already left the school system.

The decision by the Supreme Court not to hear the case followed its ruling in June in the case Bostock v. Clayton County. The court ruled that employers cannot fire employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids employment discrimination on the basis of sex, and the Court on Monday interpreted that to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In the majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch acknowledged that religious employers will have concerns about the effects of the decision, but cited statutory religious protections such as those within Title VII, the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as avenues of recourse for religious employers faced with a discrimination lawsuit.

“Because RFRA operates as a kind of super statute, displacing the normal operation of other federal laws, it might supersede Title VII’s commands in appropriate cases,” Gorsuch wrote.