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Supreme Court Allows Pennsylvania Trans-Bathroom Policy to Take Effect

(Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear a challenge to a Pennsylvania school district’s policy allowing some transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, clearing the way for the law to go into effect.

Six student plaintiffs claimed that the policy set by Boyertown Area School District in central Pennsylvania amounted to sexual harassment and violated their privacy rights.

“Forcing a teenager to share a locker room or restroom with a member of the opposite sex can cause embarrassment and distress,” their lawyers wrote in court documents. “The district’s policy was a drastic change from the way locker rooms and restrooms have been regulated for the entire history of public-school systems.”

The school district’s attorneys had argued that the new policy merely allowed transgender students the same rights as the rest of the student population.

The district “believes that transgender students should have the right to use school bathroom and locker facilities on the same basis as non-transgender students,” its attorneys wrote.

On Tuesday, the Court let stand a ruling by the Philadelphia-based Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the policy helped tamp down discrimination against transgender students.

“Boyertown’s schools chose to be inclusive and welcoming of transgender students in 2016, a decision the courts have affirmed again and again,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement after the Court’s ruling was announced. “This lawsuit sought to reverse that hard-won progress by excluding transgender students from school facilities that other students use. That would have increased the stigma and discrimination that transgender students already face.”

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