In June, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decided G.G. v. Gloucester County Public Schools. The court granted an injunction that allowed a transgender boy to use the boys’ bathrooms at his high school.
On August 3, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the implementation of the Fourth Circuit’s injunction – meaning that the student is not currently allowed to use the boys’ bathrooms at his high school until the case is fully decided. The school board for the Gloucester County Public Schools anticipates filing a petition later this month asking the Supreme Court to hear its appeal.
The Fourth Circuit decision in G.G. v. Gloucester County Public Schools did not impact Pennsylvania. But a Supreme Court decision obviously would. If the Supreme Court grants the Gloucester County school board’s appeal, experts anticipate the Supreme Court would decide whether discrimination on the basis of sex (which is illegal under Title IX) includes gender identity.
Until the Supreme Court decides to hear the case and issues a decision, the current legal status quo for transgender students in Pennsylvania remains the same. Districts should be mindful of the May 13, 2016 joint “Dear Colleague Letter” issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice which interprets sex discrimination to include gender identity.
Maiello, Brungo & Maiello encourages all districts to be proactive about drafting policy language that reflects the changing legal landscape regarding transgender students. Districts should review their existing policies for language about Title IX or transgender students. Please contact us immediately if you have any questions or require assistance with drafting a new transgender student policy.
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