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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 30, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 40
Ohio school can't bar Trans student from appropriate restroom, federal judge says
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Ohio school can't bar Trans student from appropriate restroom, federal judge says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

An Ohio school cannot bar a Transgender student from using gender-appropriate restrooms, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley ruled Sept. 26 there was 'no evidence' to suggest that allowing Trans girls to use girls' restrooms presented a threat to anyone else.

Ohio's Highland Local School District had filed a lawsuit to challenge federal guidelines issued by the Obama administration. In May, the U.S. Department of Education wrote to every school district in the country advising them that they must accommodate Trans students or risk losing federal funding.

Highland Local School District sued to defend their decision to keep one Trans girl out of female bathrooms and locker rooms.

The school district argued that the girl, identified only as Jane Doe in court documents, is not being discriminated against because she can use a unisex staff toilet, away from other students. To allow her to use the girls' restroom would put others 'at risk,' the school district alleged.

Lawyers for the student answered that the school is putting the girl at risk by refusing to recognize her identity.

Judge Marbley found 'no merit' in the school district's arguments.

'[Other] school districts that have encountered these very issues have been able to integrate [T]ransgender students fully into the academic and social community without disruption, and certainly without the doomsday scenarios Highland predicts, such as sexual predators entering an elementary-school restroom,' he wrote.

'The Court finds no merit in Third-Party Defendants' argument that other students would be harmed by allowing Jane to use the bathroom consistent with her gender identity, as other students already do.'

The judge then ordered district officials to 'treat Jane Doe as the girl she is, including referring to her by female pronouns and her female name and allowing her to use the girls' restroom at Highland Elementary School.'

'Every student has a right to be free from discrimination and harassment while at school, and we are pleased the Court has taken this important step in protecting Jane Doe's rights,' the girl's attorney, Joseph Weissman, said after the ruling.

Last month, a federal district court in Texas ruled that the Obama administration had exceeded its authority by issuing guidelines on the treatment of Trans students to local school districts. The Texas court did not address the underlying issue of Trans rights, however.

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