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Adams v. School Board of St. John’s County, Florida

Case Concerning Restroom Access for Transgender Students

Key Date: August 23, 2021 • 11th Circuit Agrees to Rehear Appeal
Legal Team: Lambda Legal
Type: Transgender Student Cases

Case Overview:

Lambda Legal has a filed a complaint on behalf of 16-year old John Adams, a student who was denied access to the boys’ restroom by his school because he is transgender. Drew has been living as the boy he is since 2015. When he started his freshman year, he used the boy’s restroom without issue. After someone made an anonymous complaint, John was told he could only use the gender neutral restroom, separating him from his peers and making him appear unfit to share communal facilities with others.

Latest in the Case:

On Thursday, July 26, US District Court Judge Timothy J. Corrigan, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, issued a beautiful decision in the case. The decision affirms dignity for Drew Adams, a transgender boy who had been denied access to the boys’ restroom at his school outside of Jacksonville, Florida. The school district’s policy prohibited transgender students from the restrooms that matched their gender identity – and the court found that the policy violated the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Read the full ruling here.

The school district filed an appeal in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard oral argument in the case on December 5, 2019.  The Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff in August of 2020. The school board has submitted a request for a rehearing en banc in the 11th Circuit, which is still pending. 

Case History:

  • December 2017: A three-day bench trial is held, the first of its kind concerning restroom access for transgender students.
  • February 16, 2017: Closing argument takes place.
  • July 26, 2018:U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Corrigan affirms dignity for Drew Adams, finding that the policy violated the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
  • August 23, 2018: The defendants file an appeal of the decision with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • February 21, 2018: Appellees’ brief is due to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The appellants’ brief is already filed.
  • December 5, 2019: Oral argument is held before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. A decision is expected in early 2020.
  • August 2020: The 11th Circuit rules in favor of Drew Adams, setting precedent that schools must treat transgender students equally in restrooms. 
  • June 14th, 2021: In response to a pending motion for reconsideration by the entire 11th Circuit, the three-judge panel that originally ruled vacated that opinion and issued a new opinion that did not reach the Title IX issue and that ruled for the student on narrower equal protection grounds.  The new opinion holds that the school’s policy of allowing transgender students who transitioned before registering at the school to use restrooms matching their gender identity but not allowing transgender students who transitioned after registering at the school was unconstitutionally arbitrary.  The school on August 4th again asked the full 11th Circuit to reconsider the appeal.
  • August 23, 2021: The 11th Circuit agrees to rehear the case .

Updated January 19, 2022

Lambda Legal Complaint Equality Case Files Docket June 14, 2021 Opinion

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