Another Circuit Court victory for transgender students

The 11th Circuit has now joined the 7th Circuit in holding that a school bathroom policy that bars transgender students from using the facility that matches the student’s gender identity violates the Constitution.  The court also held that such a policy violates Title IX, noting that “Every court of appeals to consider bathroom policies like the School District’s agrees that such policies violate Title IX.”

As far as the Title IX issue went, the recent Supreme Court decision of Bostock v. Clayton County was decisive.  The court understated when it said “Bostock has great import for Mr. Adams’s Title IX claim.”  Yep.   Since SCOTUS held that discrimination based on transgender status is always a form of sex discrimination, the 11th Circuit held that this standard applies to student issues as well as employment. 

I have been predicting that the issue of bathroom use by transgender students would reach the Supreme Court, but maybe I’m wrong about that.  The Supreme Court takes up cases when the Circuits Courts disagree with each other. So far on this issue the Circuits are in alignment. 

If you have a transgender student in your school, the best practice is as it always has been.  Meet with the student and family.  Discuss all of the issues: the student’s name, pronoun use, dress code, bathroom, lockers, extracurriculars.  If everyone can agree on a plan, count your blessings.  If not, contact your school attorney, who can help you navigate this evolving legal landscape.

This case is Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County, Florida.  It was decided by the 11th  Circuit on August 7, 2020. 


Tomorrow: Opportunities for you next week!