Trans student forced to use wrong school bathroom wins landmark case guaranteeing others won’t share his ‘humiliation’
A 19-year-old trans man has won the right for all Florida students to use the correct bathrooms after a landmark three-year legal battle.
Drew Adams spent much of his high school career fighting against the St. John’s County School Board when they refused to let him use the boys’ toilets.
Adams, who had transitioned while in the eighth grade, said he found the suggestion he should use the girl’s bathroom “insulting”, and claimed he was being forced to miss lessons because the school’s only unisex bathroom was so far from his classes.
The school appealed after he won his case in 2018, but he won again on Friday (August 7) after the US Court Of Appeals made a final ruling in favour of his right to equal access.
“I am very happy to see justice prevail, after spending almost my entire high school career fighting for equal treatment,” Adams said in a statement.
“High school is hard enough without having your school separate you from your peers and mark you as inferior. I hope this decision helps save other transgender students from having to go through that painful and humiliating experience.”
According to the LGBT+ advocacy group Lambda Legal, which helped Adams with his case, it was the country’s first trial involving a transgender student’s access to restrooms.
In her written decision, US Circuit Judge Beverly Martin cited June’s Supreme Court ruling on Title VII, which stated that federal discrimination protections also apply to sexuality and gender identity.
“A public school may not punish its students for gender nonconformity,” Martin wrote. “Neither may a public school harm transgender students by establishing arbitrary, separate rules for their restroom use.
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“The evidence at trial confirms that Mr Adams suffered both these indignities.”
Lambda Legal’s Tara Borelli, who represented Adams, underlined the importance of the judgment. It “sent a clear message that schools must treat transgender students with the same dignity and respect as any other student,” she said.
“The trial court was correct when it ruled that the law requires that Drew Adams be treated like every other boy and be allowed to use the boys’ restroom.
“We are glad the court saw the school board’s policy as unjust and discriminatory, and affirmed the inherent dignity and worth of transgender students,” she added.