Federal Court: Pine-Richland H.S. Must Let Transgender Students Use Bathroom Of Their Choice

PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — A federal district court has ruled in the favor of three Pine-Richland High School transgender students, and ordered the district to allow the students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

The court ruled in favor of Lambda Legal’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction that sought immediately to halt the enforcement of a new policy adopted by the school district.

On Sept. 12, 2016, a new policy was passed by the school board ordering students to use the bathroom that correlates with the sex on their birth certificate or a separate uni-sex bathroom. This vote reversed the district’s longstanding policy that students could use the bathroom with the gender they currently identified with.

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On Monday, Judge Mark R. Hornak wrote: “The Plaintiffs appear to the Court to be young people seeking to do what young people try to do every day-go to school, obtain an education, and interact as equals with their peers. …[T] he Plaintiffs have shown a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the District’s enforcement of Resolution 2 as to their use of common school restrooms does not afford them equal protection of the law as guaranteed to them by the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The Pine-Richland School District issued the following statement:

“The district will implement the order issued through the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.”

School board member Peter Lyons issued the following statement:

“Judge Hornak’s decision is well reasoned and welcomed by many in our community. It dispels the myths and unfounded fears that are often put forth to justify discrimination. It restores the Constitutional rights of students that were in place in our district for many years without incident.”

It should be noted that Lyons is not speaking on behalf of the rest of the board or the district

For Juliet Evancho, Elissa Ridenour and a minor student who is referred to as A.S., the ruling is a major victory.

“This is wonderful news and a tremendous relief that we can now use the bathroom without feeling isolated and humiliated,” Elissa said in a statement after the discriminatory restroom ban was suspended. “The past months have been incredibly stressful, and this was all so unnecessary. There was no problem before, and we are confident there will be no problem now.”

“Not with-standing the Trump Administration’s misguided and cruel actions last week, the court today found that the school’s policy barring transgender students from the restroom that matches who they are violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution…such policies are not only wrong, they are illegal. The rescission of a guidance by the Trump administration cannot change that,” said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan.

Last week, the Trump administration ended federal protection for transgender students that allowed them to use public school bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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