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Win for trans rights: Supreme Court rejects Indiana school’s trans bathroom policy appeal

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The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from an Indiana school district that barred a transgender student from using the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.

The case involved a John R. Wooden Middle School student identified as “A.C.” who was prohibited from using the boys’ restrooms at school. In 2021, A.C.’s parents filed the lawsuit, arguing that the school’s policy violated Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education and the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

The district court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with A.C. in a 2023 ruling, finding the policy discriminatory. The Metropolitan School District of Martinsville, alongside 19 Republican state attorneys general, conservative groups and religious advocacy organizations, sought a Supreme Court intervention in their case.

However, even with its 6-3 conservative majority, the high court rejected the appeal without dissent. The lack of action leaves the lower court’s decision in place, granting A.C. access to the boys’ bathroom.

Human rights advocates hailed the decision as a victory for transgender youth. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana praised the Court’s decision on X, previously known as Twitter.

“This case is about the fundamental right of every student to a safe and inclusive learning environment, and the freedom of transgender youth to be themselves. We’re thankful the Court allowed this momentous victory for the transgender youth of Indiana to stand,” the ACLU of Indiana wrote.

Legal stalemate on trans rights

Transgender rights have become a significant point of contention in the U.S., with Republicans in various states enacting laws restricting bathroom access, limiting sports participation and curbing access to gender-affirming healthcare for transgender individuals.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who backed the school district’s lawsuit, expressed disappointment through a spokesperson. In a statement to Fox News Digital, the spokesperson criticized the Supreme Court for missing a chance to offer clarity, especially given the disagreement among appellate courts on the issue.

The spokesperson claims that it is illogical for the high court not to address the disparity in federal cases. However, due to the division, the spokesperson said that children in various regions of the country will continue to be “properly protected.”

“Unfortunately for now, our schools will be forced to allow transgender students to use whichever bathroom they feel corresponds to the gender identity they’ve picked to use on that day. We will continue our fight so regular, common-sense Hoosier parents can raise their children free of this toxic transanity,” the spokesperson said.

The high court’s decision follows a similar ruling from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. In the case, a transgender student in Wisconsin named Ashton Whitaker faced similar bathroom restrictions. Whitaker, his mother sued Kenosha Unified School District and a district judge granted the permission to use the boys’ restrooms.

At the time, the school district appealed the court’s decision, but a unanimous three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit rejected the appeal.

“Litigation over transgender rights is occurring all over the country, and we assume that at some point the Supreme Court will step in with more guidance than it has furnished so far,” Judge Diane Wood wrote in an opinion for the Seventh Circuit.

However, the Supreme Court has a history of sidestepping similar cases. In 2021, it refused to hear a Virginia school board’s case, upholding a lower court ruling that found the restrictions discriminatory against transgender students. The decision has since set a precedent for schools in several states.

More from So.Gay:

In a blow to trans rights, Ohio House overrides veto for trans healthcare, sports participation

California Attorney General deems forced outing ‘unconstitutional’

Proposed Florida bill gives $35K fine for speaking against transphobia

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