A cisgender high school student is suing his Pennsylvania school district for allowing a transgender classmate to use the same bathroom and locker rooms as him, claiming it caused him embarrassment and humiliation.
The student, identified as Joel Doe in the lawsuit, filed the case against the Boyertown Area School District on Tuesday in the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania, BuzzFeed News reported. Doe's case is being brought forward by an anti-LGBTQ rights group, the Alliance Defending Freedom, that authored several state bills against marriage equality.
His lawyers argue that the school district's trans-inclusive rules violate the cisgender student's "right to bodily privacy." The suit, obtained by BuzzFeed, claims Doe "experienced immediate confusion, embarrassment, humiliation, and loss of dignity" when, while changing in a locker room on Oct. 31 last year, looked up to find a transgender boy (described in the lawsuit as "a member of the opposite sex") was changing as well, wearing shorts and a bra.
The ADF tries to make a similar argument to one made by many high-profile lawsuits brought by trans students—that their school district's policies cause the student emotional and physical harm because the student now avoids using the bathroom:
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. He also fears the future embarrassment of meeting students of the opposite sex in the bathroom when simply relieving himself. He now avoids using the restroom during the school day because of the ongoing risk of having his privacy violated.
Whether or not Title IX protections against discrimination in schools on the basis of sex include gender identity is the issue at the heart of several ongoing court cases around the nation. That includes Gloucester County School Board v Grimm, the case that the Supreme Court was set to hear until it sent the case back to a lower court after the Trump administration rescinded guidelines advising schools to uphold their trans students' rights to bathroom access.
But the suit goes further, and makes it clear that the ADF's argument is grounded in the view that transgender identities are not legitimate and should not be recognized.
"The term 'sex' refers to one's biological/anatomical status as either male or female," the suit says. "Sex is fixed at conception, binary, objectively verifiable, and rooted in our human reproductive nature."
Just last month, another federal court in Pennsylvania ruled in favor of three transgender teenagers who sued their school district because they were not allowed to use the bathroom that aligned with their gender identities.
“The Plaintiffs appear to the Court to be young people seeking to do what young people try to do every day-go to school, obtain an education, and interact as equals with their peers,” U.S. District Court Judge Mark R. Hornak wrote in that decision.
In a statement to Philly.com, the Boyertown Area School District said they had not received the complaint and declined comment. We've also reached out for comment and will update if we hear back.