Lawsuit: Girl in Boys’ Locker Room Violated Student Privacy

A Pennsylvania high school is involved in a lawsuit for allowing a female student into the boys’ locker room.

(photo: amboo who via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0))

PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania high school wrongly allowed a female student into the boys’ locker room and violated an undressing male student’s privacy and his right to be free from harassment, a lawsuit charges.

“No school should rob any student of his legally protected personal privacy,” said Randall Wenger, chief counsel of the Pennsylvania-based Independence Law Center, a co-counsel to the lawsuit.

“We trust that our children won’t be forced into emotionally vulnerable situations like this when they are in the care of our schools — because it’s a school’s duty to protect and respect the bodily privacy and dignity of all students. In this case, school officials are clearly ignoring that duty.”

The student, named in the lawsuit as “Joel Doe,” was in a locker room in his underwear about to put on gym clothes when he noticed a female student in the locker room, also in a state of undress.

When the male student complained to school officials, they told him that students who identify as the opposite sex may choose their locker room. When the male student asked officials to protect his privacy, the officials allegedly told him to tolerate the behavior and make changing clothes in the presence of the student as natural as possible.

The school is in the Boyertown Area School District, which covertly allowed students of the opposite sex into its schools’ locker rooms and restrooms, according to Alliance Defending Freedom, a co-counsel in the case. The district allegedly did not notify parents of the change.

The lawsuit against the school district was filed March 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. It claims the student suffered sexual harassment prohibited under Title IX of federal law, violation of privacy guarantees under the U.S. Constitution, and violation of state privacy law.

“Our laws and customs have long recognized that we shouldn’t have to undress in front of persons of the opposite sex,” said Kellie Fiedorek, legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, who said state law requires schools to have separate facilities on the basis of sex.

She charged that some schools are “forcing our children into giving up their privacy rights.”

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito says of discerning one’s college choice, ‘There has to be something that tugs at you and makes you want to investigate it further. And then the personal encounter comes in the form of a visit or a chat with a student or alumnus who communicates with the same enthusiasm or energy about the place. And then that love of a place can be a seed which germinates in your own heart through prayer.’

Choose a College With a Discerning Mind and Heart

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito, assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas (UD) and subprior (and former vocations director) of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, drew from his experience as both a student and now monastic religious to help those discerning understand the parallels between religious and college discernment.