A transgender student and the American Civil Liberties Union have asked to join a lawsuit and defend the Frederick County Board of Education’s transgender policy against the civil action.
The board in June adopted a policy allowing transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity and participate in sports and other activities consistent with that identity.
A parent and 15-year-old student, identified under the pseudonym Mary Smith, sued the board in August, arguing that allowing transgender students to use the bathroom in which they are more comfortable violates her fundamental right to bodily privacy. The mother, who uses the name Jane Doe in the suit, says the policy violates her right to “care, custody, control, upbringing,” and information regarding her child.
James Van Kuilenburg, a transgender student at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School, and the ACLU filed a request Friday to join the lawsuit on the side of the school board, asserting that Van Kuilenburg had a personal interest in the policy and, therefore, the outcome of the case.
Being able to behave and participate at school in a manner consistent with his identity gave Van Kuilenburg “the ability to finally be myself and access all parts of my education,” he said in a statement.
The ACLU stated the motion was to “defend the school board’s policy and stop members of the community from attempting to disrupt his and other trans students’ education by taking away their right to be treated with dignity as the gender they are.”
The 15-year-old girl in the lawsuit said that the schools failed to adequately monitor bathrooms and that another female student filmed and distributed photos of her. It was not clear if that allegation involved a transgender student or whether it was before or after the policy was approved in mid-June.
The ACLU said the idea that barring transgender students from their preferred bathroom would remedy that kind of invasion of privacy is a “tenuous theory.”
The girl contends that she and girls like her avoid school bathrooms because of privacy and safety concerns.
Her suit, filed in U.S. District Court of Maryland, asks the court to throw out the board policy and demands the school district communicate with parents regarding all issues pertaining to a student’s sexuality or gender identity.
A judge will decide to accept or deny the ACLU and Van Kuilenburg’s request at a later time.
The Board of Education and other defendants also filed a motion Friday to dismiss the case, saying the case has no merit because the girl does not have a legal right to share a bathroom only with non-transgender students.