Student Takes a Stand on Gender Rights At Indiana School

In a recent decision, the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to hear an Indiana school district’s appeal, affirming a lower court ruling that transgender students in the state could access restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

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Federal appeals courts are divided on whether school policies restricting transgender students from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity violate federal law or the U.S. Constitution.

Court battles over transgender rights are ongoing nationwide, with at least nine states imposing restrictions on transgender students’ bathroom use.

Meanwhile, transgender students across the country have been challenging the controversial policies, asserting violations of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and Title IX, a federal civil rights law prohibiting sex-based discrimination.

In 2021, the Biden administration proposed rules allowing schools to block some transgender athletes from competing on sports teams that match their gender identities, under certain circumstances, while opposing blanket bans.

The Supreme Court, however, has shown reluctance to address issues implicating transgender protections. In 2021, the court declined to intervene in a transgender bathroom dispute and, in June, refused to disturb a ruling favoring a transgender woman who contested being unlawfully deprived of hormone treatment in jail.

The boy at the center of the case at hand, identified as A.C. in court documents, transitioned at nine years old, began using a male name and pronouns, and adopted a masculine appearance. He also takes puberty-suppressing medication.

While he was enrolled in Martinsville’s Wooden Middle School, A.C. and his family asked that the school allow him to use the boys’ restroom, but their request was met with refusal. The school suggested he use the girls’ restroom or a separate, single restroom in the health clinic instead.

In Martinsville, high school students identifying as transgender are permitted to use the restroom aligning with their gender identity, provided they meet specific criteria set by the school. Though A.C. submitted documentation based on this policy, the middle school declined his request.

A.C. went on to claim that the school district had violated the equal protection clause and Title IX, filing a complaint and requesting a court order to block the school’s decision. The order was eventually granted, allowing him to use the boys’ restrooms at the middle school.

Martinsville urged the Supreme Court to step in, and Paul Clement, an attorney representing the school, stated, “It makes no sense to force jurisdictions in the Fourth and Seventh Circuit to abandon long-standing policies or modify decades-old infrastructure while the status quo ante prevails in the Eleventh Circuit.”

A.C. stated that there was no need for the Supreme Court to review the decision, especially considering he no longer attends middle school and is currently in high school, which fortunately for him has a transgender bathroom policy in place. The Supreme Court made no comment about its decision not to hear the case.