Transgender teen wins bathroom battle after suing his school board
A 17-year-old trans teen has won a legal battle against his local school board – after he was denied access to the men’s bathroom.
Drew Adams, a student at Allen D. Nease High School in Florida, had been forced to launch legal action last year after he was denied the right to use the correct bathroom.
The honor student, who gives up his spare time to volunteer at the Mayo Clinic and plans to become a psychiatrist, just wanted to be treated like any other boy.
But the Florida student was called out from his classroom and told by his guidance counsellor that someone had anonymously complained about him using the boys’ restroom.
School officials told him that going forward, he should either use the girls’ bathroom or the single-stall unisex bathroom in the school office.”
Adams, who had transitioned while in the eighth grade, said he found the suggestion he should use the girl’s bathroom “insulting”, and alleged he was being forced to miss lessons because the unisex bathroom is far away from the portable buildings where he has many of his classes.
Judge Timothy J Corrigan of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida this week ruled that the school board was unlawfully discriminating against Adams, issuing an injunction “preventing the St. Johns County School Board from enforcing its policy which prohibits Drew Adams from using the boys’ restrooms at Nease High School.”
Adams was awarded $1,000 in compensatory damages.
He said: “I am so grateful that I can just focus on being a regular kid at school. I have so many other things on my mind, like getting into my top college choice, so I don’t want to have to worry about whether I can use the boys’ restroom.
“It was upsetting to think my school didn’t want me because I am transgender, and I hope no one else has to feel like that.”
The teen’s mother, Erica Adams Kasper, added: “I am still heartbroken to know that the place my child spends more time than at home with me was discriminating against him for being transgender, but I am so relieved that the court has put a stop to this humiliating restroom policy.”
According to court documents, when the school’s principal was asked whether she considered Adams to be a boy, she replied, ‘I do not.'”
Judge Corrigan wrote: “That’s what this case is about. Everyone agrees that boys should use the boys’ restroom at Nease and that girls should use the girls’ restroom.
“The parties disagree over whether Drew Adams is a boy. I can only answer that question with the evidence given to me at trial.
“Drew Adams says he is a boy and has undergone extensive surgery to conform his body to his gender identity; medical science says he is a boy; the State of Florida says so (both Adams’ Florida birth certificate and Florida driver’s license say he is a male); and the Florida High School Athletic Association says so.
“Other than at his school, Adams uses the mens’ bathroom wherever he goes, including in this federal courthouse during trial. Even the St. Johns County School Board regards Adams as a boy in every way, except for which bathroom he can use.
“When confronted with something affecting our children that is new, outside of our experience, and contrary to gender norms we thought we understood, it is natural that parents want to protect their children. But the evidence is that Drew Adams poses no threat to the privacy or safety of any of his fellow students.
“Rather, Drew Adams is just like every other student at Nease High School, a teenager coming of age in a complicated, uncertain and changing world. When it comes to his use of the bathroom, the law requires that he be treated like any other boy.
“As a boy, Adams must be permitted to use the boys’ restroom at school.”
Paul D. Castillo, Senior Attorney and Students’ Rights Strategist at Lambda Legal, said: “Throughout the trial, the court addressed Drew the way his family, friends, community, and even the state of Florida treat him – as a boy.
“For St. John’s County School Board to have a policy that says Drew is somehow less deserving of the same safe, respectful learning environment as any other child because he is transgender is discriminatory.
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“We are pleased that Drew will be able to start his senior year being able to use the restroom that matches who he is, just like any other student.”
The case comes at the same time as similar victories in other courts across the US.
Judge Marco A. Hernández of Federal District Court in Portland this week dismissed a challenge to a transgender bathroom policy, filed by a lawyer linked to anti-LGBT hate group Alliance Defending Freedom.
The challenge has sought to undo a school district policy that allows a male transgender student to use the boys’ restrooms, showers and locker rooms.
There was another recent victory in Pennsylvania, where a US federal appeals court rejected an attempt to ban transgender children from using the bathrooms of their chosen gender.
The case was filed against Boyertown Area School District in Pennsylvania, in an attempt to challenge the school district’s transgender-inclusive policies.