The Ohio School Plan constantly monitors case law and legal decisions that may impact our members. Most recently, a federal judge ruled in a transgender case that a student must be treated "as the girl she is." This is an important decision that all school districts should be aware of as it could have an impact on any district in the state. The details of the decision are as follows:
A federal judge has ordered an Ohio local school district to treat a transgender student "as the girl she is" and "allow her to use the girls' restroom" at her elementary school.
In his decision, the judge in Board of Educ. of Highland Local Sch. Dist. v. U.S. Dept. of Educ. also advised the Highland Local School District to refer to the 11-year-old student as a girl, use female pronouns and use her female name.
Before Jane was in the first grade her parents asked, and the district refused, to allow the student to use the girls' bathroom. In 2013, alleging the school district discriminated against Jane Doe, the family filed a complaint with the Department of Education. In June 2016, the department advised the district they violated Title IX regulations which prohibit discrimination in any education program or activity. Highland stood to lose $1 million annually in education funds for violating federal rules.
The Department of Education gave the district a resolution to the issue which the district rejected. The district then sued for an injunction in order to prevent the Department of Education from enforcing its rule allowing students to access bathrooms based on their gender identity. Jane Doe's parents then sued on the government's side, arguing the district discriminated against Jane and violated her right to privacy.
The judge found Jane Doe is likely to win her equal-protection claim and would suffer irreparable harm if the district continued its practices. The student has attempted suicide and stopped going to the individual-user bathroom offered by the school because of bullying by students.
The district has appealed the decision.
If you have any questions or would like any additional information, please contact Bill Petro, Vice President of Claims for Hylant Administrative Services at 1-800-288-6821.