A Pennsylvania school district is being sued for allowing girls into a boys’ high school locker room unannounced – a lawsuit that comes after a male student shockingly found himself simultaneously changing clothes next to a female student.
Even though President Donald Trump recently put an end to the Obama administration’s order mandating that boys and girls showers, restrooms and locker rooms in public schools be opened to each other, many schools continue to adhere to the former president’s controversial and problematic practice.
On behalf of the high school boy referred to as “Joel Doe” – and his guardians – the Christian legal groups, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the Independence Law Center (ILC), have brought a lawsuit against the Boyertown Area School District (BASD).
Attorneys filing the lawsuit argue that school officials knew they were infringing on students’ fundamental rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
“[The district deliberately violated] a child’s fundamental right to bodily privacy, contrary to constitutional and statutory principles,” ADF and ILC attorneys claim in their complaint against the district, BASD Superintendent Richard Faidley, Boyerton Area High School (BAHS) Principal Brett Cooper and BAHS Assistant Principal E. Wayne Foley. “[The high school boy] was exposed involuntarily to an undressed female student while he was changing in his school’s locker room.”
Besides citing the 14th Amendment, the prosecuting attorneys used Title IX to prove their case, along with the “invasion of seclusion” and the Pennsylvania Public School Code of 1940 – a longstanding policy that put in place the requirement that boys and girls be guaranteed separate facilities on the basis of their natural sex on school campuses.
Joel Doe was stricken with shock and embarrassment while undressing for his high school physical education class.
“Without any notice to students or parents, the school district secretly opened its schools’ sex-specific restrooms and locker rooms to students of the opposite sex,” ADF and ILC explained, according to WND. “When the student, identified in the lawsuit as ‘Joel Doe,’ was standing in his underwear about to put on his gym clothes, he suddenly noticed that a female student – also in a state of undress – was in the locker room.”
After reporting the violation to his privacy and his shock over the disturbing encounter, BAHS staff ultimately told the high school boy to just deal with it.
“The male student brought a complaint to school officials, who informed him that they now allow students who subjectively identify themselves as the opposite sex to choose whichever locker room they wish to use,” the conservative legal organizations recounted. “He asked officials to protect his privacy, but they instead told him twice that he must ‘tolerate’ it and make changing with students of the opposite sex as ‘natural’ as he can.”
According to ILC Chief Counsel Randall Wenger, schools are overstepping their authority by forcing students to share facilities with the opposite sex – thereby trouncing their constitutional rights on campus.
“No school should rob any student of his legally protected personal privacy,” Wenger insisted. “We trust that our children won’t be forced into emotionally vulnerable situations like this when they are in the care of our schools because it’s a school’s duty to protect and respect the bodily privacy and dignity of all students. In this case, school officials are clearly ignoring that duty.”
It is maintained in the complaint that the school’s policy of forcing boys and girls to share facilities is psychologically and emotionally damaging to students.
“[The BASD practice] has had a severe and negative impact on plaintiff,” the complaint reads. “Plaintiff has experienced embarrassment and humiliation, both in terms of being viewed and viewing a student of the opposite sex in a state of undress and because of the stigmatization and criticism he received from other students and adults – fueled by the administration’s policy and actions.”
The complaint also mentions how the policy forces Joel Doe to live in a state of apprehension and mortification every time he walks onto campus.
“He also fears the future embarrassment of meeting students of the opposite sex in the bathroom when simply relieving himself,” the complaint continues. “He now avoids using the restroom during the school day because of the ongoing risk of having his privacy violated.”
Pre-established code of decency
For generations, legal codes reflecting social constructs have protected men and women from experiencing compromising encounters with the opposite sex in intimate settings, says ADF Legal Counsel Kellie Fiedorek.
“[America’s] laws and customs have long recognized that we shouldn’t have to undress in front of persons of the opposite sex,” Fiedorek pointed out. “But now, some schools are forcing our children into giving up their privacy rights even though – in this case – Pennsylvania law requires schools to have separate facilities on the basis of sex.”
ILC Senior Counsel Jeremy Samek indicates that the district’s policy simply tramples over the well-being of most of its student body in order to pacify LGBT activists and forward their progressive agenda.
“Respect means protecting the personal privacy of each student – not taking it away,” Samek stressed. “It’s regrettable that a student would have to go to court to ensure that his well-established privacy rights aren’t tossed aside.”
Such respect was not extended to Joel Doe – even after he informed school officials about his discomfort and violated privacy.
“It was Oct. 31, 2016, when Joel Doe was changing into clothing for a required physical education class when he noticed a girl also changing in the room,” WND’s Bob Unruh informed. “She was wearing ‘nothing but shorts and a bra.’ He dressed quickly, left and complained – along with other classmates -- to Foley, whose response included the statement that biological gender did not matter.”
Far from a misunderstanding, the incident was no accident, and school officials were unapologetic about the male student’s distressing encounter.
“The district intentionally and purposefully caused Joel Doe’s privacy to be violated,” contends the complaint in the lawsuit against the school, which notified WND that it was not aware that it was “officially” served with the case yet, and that it was currently looking into the situation.
According to the complaint, a number of requirements – including the student’s 14th Amendment’s privacy protections – were not met by the district.
“Minors have a fundamental right to be free for state compelled risk of exposure of their bodies – or their intimate activities,” the student’s attorneys maintain in the suit. “Doe was subjected to harassment because the practice allows biological females to use the boys’ locker rooms and restrooms, which creates a harassing hostile environment –specifically on the basis of the sex of the persons involved. Differences in anatomy … do not disappear when biological females self-identify as males, and vice versa.”
The plaintiffs are asking that the judge will grant them a permanent injunction that will prohibit the school district from continuing its practice of forcing students of the opposite sex to expose themselves to one another in locker room and restroom settings.
The latest battle over privacy rights in public school facilities is nothing new – as transgender activists have pressed their agenda so that all Americans will bow down to their demands in public and private settings – and former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump have fought on both sides of the pressing issue.
“Obama had incorporated it widely by demanding that schools allow students to pick their gender,” Unruh noted. “Then the Trump administration sent a letter to schools across the nation withdrawing Obama’s requirement that boys who identify as girls be allowed to use girls’ showers, restrooms and other gender-specific facilities. In a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter, the Trump administration overturned the overreach from the Obama administration based on the premise that in the 1970s, when Title IX was adopted, Congress had in mind that girls’ facilities should be open to boys who say they are girls and vice versa.”
The ’Dear Colleague’ letter sought to set the record straight over the matter.
“These [Obama] guidance documents take the position that the prohibitions on discrimination ‘on the basis of sex’ in Title IX … require access to sex-segregated facilities based on gender identity,” the letter states. “These guidance documents do not, however, contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.”
As a result, it was proclaimed that “the Department of Justice and the Department of Education are withdrawing” the Obama mandates.
However, the controversy and debate did not end there, as mentioned in the letter:
“[S]ignificant litigation [had arisen over the move and] the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit concluded that the term ‘sex’ in the regulations is ambiguous and deferred to what the court characterized as the ‘novel’ interpretation advanced in the guidance,” the letter notes. “[B]y contrast, a federal district court in Texas held that the term ‘sex’ unambiguously refers to biological sex and that, in any event, the guidance was ‘legislative and substantive,’ and thus formal rulemaking should have occurred prior to the adoption.”
In addition, departments of the federal government stressed how school policies should be made.
“[T]here must be due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy,” federal departments expressed.
Indicating that the Trump administration must adhere to U.S. law over the matter, White House Spokesman Sean Spicer announced that Obama’s interpretation of “sex” as stated in the 1972 Title IX law – as being whatever gender an individual chooses – would be rejected.
“There are problems in both the legal and process way in which (Obama’s) guidance was issued,” Spicer responded when asked about the restroom mandate at the time. “And so, it is incumbent on us to actually follow the law and to recognize that Title IX … was [enacted] in 1972.”
The judicial resistance to Obama’s restroom mandate – noted above in the Lone Star State – made it a point that the term “sex” has not been official redefined in the legal system.
“It was U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas who blocked the Obama directive nationwide and denied requests from two federal executive branch departments to lift the ban,” Unruh pointed out. “He also noted that ‘sex,’ as used in 1972, referred to the person’s physical gender at birth.”