A group of students and parents from Minnesota filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the federal government and their school district for allowing a transgender student who was born male but identifies as female into the girls’ locker rooms, showers, and restrooms.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of challenges to the Obama administration’s bathroom mandate issued in May that requires public schools and universities nationwide to give transgender students full access to school facilities based on their gender identity instead of their biological sex. Schools that do not comply with the administration’s guidance could face legal action or loss of federal funding.
The lawsuit was filed by the conservative nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom representing concerned parents and students who formed a group called Privacy Matters. The group is suing over Minnesota’s Virginia Public Schools’ policy for transgender students, arguing that the current policy is an invasion of personal privacy.
According to the complaint, a transgender student in Duluth, Minnesota, was allowed to enter the girls’ locker room and would dance “in a sexually explicit manner—‘twerking,’ ‘grinding,’ and dancing like he was on a ‘stripper pole’ to songs with explicit lyrics, including ‘Milkshake’ by Kelis.”
“On another occasion,” the complaint noted, “a female student saw the male student lift his dress to reveal his underwear while ‘grinding’ to the music.”
“School policies should promote the rights and safety of every student, but that’s not what Virginia Public Schools is doing—and it’s certainly not what the departments of Education and Justice are doing,” said Gary McCaleb, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom.
“No child should be forced into an intimate setting, like a locker room, with someone of the opposite sex,” he added. “Telling girls that their privacy and modesty don’t merit a private and secure changing area is an attack on women. The school district should rescind its privacy-violating policies, and the court should order the [Department of Education] and [Department of Justice] to stop bullying school districts with falsehoods about what federal law requires.”
The group, Privacy Matters, is suing the Education Department, the Justice Department, and Minnesota’s Virginia public school system.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, argues that the Obama administration unlawfully redefined the meaning of Title IX to provide transgender students protection against discrimination based on their gender identity.
The issue of whether Title IX applies to gender identity has divided the country, with liberals arguing that access to private facilities in accordance to a student’s gender identity is a basic civil right, while conservatives say opening bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers to students of the opposite biological sex would violate the safety and privacy rights of the rest of the student body.
Title IX is the federal statute that bans discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational institution that receives government funding.
In August, the Supreme Court signaled an interest in weighing in on the issue, allowing a school system in the state of Virginia to temporarily keep its bathrooms separated by biological sex until lawyers for the school district file their appeal asking the Supreme Court to hear their case. Later that month, a U.S. District judge in Texas followed suit, arguing the Obama administration did not follow proper rulemaking procedures when mandating that public schools open their restrooms, locker rooms, and showers to transgender students based on their gender identity instead of their biological sex.
A total of 24 states are challenging the Obama administration’s bathroom directive, in addition to the private lawsuits being brought by students and parents in different school districts across the country.