News & Politics

The Supreme Court Won't Protect This Girl's Privacy Rights Against Trans Activism. What Comes Next?

YouTube screenshot of Alexis Lightcap from Alliance Defending Freedom.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the important case Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, which centered on the question of whether or not students have the privacy right to sex-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms. Boys were shocked to find a girl changing with them and teenage girl Alexis Lightcap was terrified to a find a boy in her restroom. These violations of privacy were justified in the name of transgender inclusion. While the Supreme Court did not take up Lightcap’s case, it may consider similar ones coming down the pike.

“Students struggling with their beliefs about gender need compassionate support, but sound reasons based on common sense have always existed for schools to separate male and female teenagers in showers, restrooms, and locker rooms,” John Bursch, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, the firm representing Lightcap, said in a statement. “No student’s recognized right to bodily privacy should be made contingent on what other students believe about their own gender.”

The Boyertown Area School District secretly implemented the pro-transgender policy during the 2016-2017 school year. Boys discovered a girl changing in their locker room. Embarrassed and confused, they sought help from school officials, who told them they should just “tolerate it” and “make it as natural as possible.” One of the male students left the school as a result of the policy. Lightcap encountered a boy in her restroom. Shocked and afraid, she fled the restroom, but school officials rejected her privacy concerns.

The lawsuit, Doe v. Boyertown, argues the school is violating its students’ fundamental right to bodily privacy under the Constitution and effectively denying them access to locker room and restroom facilities on the basis of sex under Title IX.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the school, and ADF had appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

“Because the 3rd Circuit’s decision made a mess of bodily privacy and Title IX principles, we believe the Supreme Court should have reviewed it,” Bursch said. “But we hope the court will take up a similar case in the future to bring much-needed clarity to how the lower courts should handle violations of well-established student privacy rights.”

When PJ Media inquired as to what other cases the Court might consider, ADF pointed to two cases at the 9th and 11th Circuit Courts of Appeals.

In Drew Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County, Florida, Lamba Legal is representing a biological girl who identifies as a boy, Drew Adams, who sued her school board after the school told her she should use the gender-neutral restrooms, rather than the boy’s restroom. According to Lambda Legal, this policy “separates him from his peers and treats him as unfit to share communal facilities with others.”

While Lamba Legal refers to Adams as male, the entire case revolves around the fact that she is a female and makes boys uncomfortable when she uses their restroom. Adams v. St. Johns County is fully briefed and pending oral argument at the 11th Circuit.

The other case, Parents for Privacy v. William Barr, is a holdover from the Obama administration. In this case, a parents’ group brought suit after a school district authorized access to private facilities based on perceived gender rather than objective biological sex. The U.S. Department of Education was included as a defendant due to the Obama administration’s policies, even though the Trump administration is withdrawing the transgender guidance and eschewing further reliance on it. Parents for Privacy v. William Barr is fully briefed and pending oral argument at the 9th Circuit.

“These types of school policies have serious privacy implications. That’s why we hope the Supreme Court will eventually weigh in to protect students’ constitutional right to bodily privacy,” Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel at ADF, said in a statement. “All schools, including Boyertown Area School District, should be providing compassionate support for those dealing with gender dysphoria, but they should do so in ways that protect the privacy of all students.”

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.