A Frederick County Public Schools student claims her privacy will be violated as a result of the district’s transgender policy that was approved this summer, according to a federal lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed in the District Court of Maryland against the Frederick County Board of Education and Superintendent Theresa Alban, was filed by a 15-year-old girl under the pseudonym Mary Smith, and her mother, identified as Jane Doe.
The girl, a high school student at a Frederick County school, alleges her fundamental right to bodily privacy is being intentionally violated because of the recently passed transgender policy. The mother’s “fundamental parental rights to the care, custody, control, upbringing and information regarding her child is also being intentionally violated,” according to the lawsuit.
The transgender policy allows students to use whichever bathroom aligns with their gender identity. It also allows athletes to participate in sports that align with their gender identity and room with students of the same gender on overnight school trips.
Board of Education President Brad Young said it was too early in the process for the board to comment in response to the lawsuit, which was filed late last week.
Alban said in a text message that it would be premature to make any comment regarding the suit.
The 15-year-old plaintiff alleges that she is a victim and her school failed to adequately monitor bathrooms, which allowed a “female student [to] video her on her phone and to then distribute photos of her body.”
The lawsuit does not make clear if that alleged violation had anything to do with a transgender student. It is also unclear whether the incident occurred before or after the policy was approved in mid-June.
Because the policy was passed during the summer, there have been no full school days since the policy was put in effect.
The lawsuit argues that the transgender policy encourages teachers and school officials to keep student information from parents.
The lawsuit adds that the plaintiff Mary Smith and girls like her are avoiding school bathrooms altogether because of privacy and safety concerns.
Dan Cox, a former Republican candidate for Congress and candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates in 2018, is the attorney in the case. The lawsuit comes less than two months after Cox offered public comment at the Board of Education meeting before the policy was passed. At the time, Cox implied that the board could be subjecting itself to a lawsuit because of the policy.
The plaintiffs are seeking a permanent injunction on the policy and demanding the school district communicate with parents regarding all issues pertaining to a student’s sexuality or gender identity. It also demands that only females be allowed to use the female bathrooms in schools, and that males be barred from competing with females in athletics.
Last week, the board began a discussion of the policy’s accompanying regulation, which is designed to bring more clarity for teachers and parents in regards to training and implementation.
With much of the policy’s opposition revolving around privacy concerns from parents, the regulation sought to calm those fears.
“Every effort shall be made to encourage and support communication between transgender and gender non-conforming students and the student’s parent/guardian, unless there is a health or safety concern,” the regulation said. “Schools may offer to meet jointly with the parent/guardian and the student at school. School staff shall work to both support student needs as well as respect the rights of the parent/guardian to have access to student records in compliance with federal and state law.”
Because of the vast array of possible scenarios, however, the board is weighing its options to create specific overarching policies — such as a bathroom policy, or a parental notification policy.
“Whether it’s the size of the kids on the football team, or what have you, we’ve talked about some really important issues,” school board member Liz Barrett said of the policy and regulation. “But, for some reason, we’ve had all of those important conversations just about kids who are transgender or gender non-conforming.
“If we’re talking about liability issues, or how our counselors work with our students, let’s do that separate [from the regulation]. ... It’s not just students who are transgender who are at risk.”