Boyertown students appeal court’s decision to protect trans youth

Boyertown students appeal court’s decision to protect trans youth

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Pennsylvania students are appealing a federal court judge’s decision to uphold a Berks County district’s trans-inclusive policies.

Earlier this year, four Boyertown Area School District students filed a lawsuit after claiming their privacy was violated while sharing facilities with trans students. Judge Edward G. Smith last month denied a preliminary injunction from the Alliance Defending Freedom and Independence Law Center, organizations representing the students, and allowed the school district to continue operating its trans-inclusive policies as the case moves forward. However, attorneys with the two firms filed an appeal of the decision Monday on behalf of the students and parents. 

“School officials have a duty to protect the privacy and dignity of all students,” ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb said in a statement. “Because the Boyertown District has failed to fulfill its responsibility, we are asking the appellate court to protect their rights while the lawsuit proceeds. This is important not only for our clients, but for all students within the Boyertown Area School District.”

Independence Law Center Legal Counsel Jeremy Samek added that “many students and parents are rightfully concerned that the district’s new policy permits a student to unilaterally violate the privacy rights of other students based simply on that student’s beliefs about gender.” 

“A person’s privacy rights are theirs and theirs alone,” Samek added. “Beliefs about gender shouldn’t be a license to violate privacy inside boys’ or girls’ locker rooms and restrooms. That defeats the very purpose of sex-separated facilities.” 

Representatives from the Boyertown Area School District declined to comment on the appeal.

The lawsuit began in March when a male student changing in a locker room realized there was another student, a trans male, wearing shorts and a bra. The student and classmates approached Assistant Principal Dr. E. Wayne Foley and, according to the initial complaint, Foley responded that students have a right to use facilities corresponding to their gender identities. The student’s parents met with Foley and Principal Brett Cooper, who said the school was “all-inclusive” and recommended students with concerns change in the nurse’s office. 

The suit claimed the student has experienced “anxiety, stress, intimidation, fear, apprehension and loss of dignity.”

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