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Joel Doe v. Boyertown Area School District

Case Concerning Restroom Access for Transgender Students

Key Date: September 24, 2019 • Plaintiffs Drop Case
Legal Team: ACLU
Type: Transgender Student Cases

Case Overview:

Doe v. Boyertown is a case concerning discrimination based on gender identity or expression in schools. Boyertown Area High School in Pennsylvania has long had a policy respecting the gender identity of transgender students – but in 2017 an anti-LGBTQ organization filed a lawsuit challenging this policy, on behalf of several non-transgender students, who claim their privacy is threatened by transgender students using the restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.

This case is about respecting transgender students for who they are and is a part of the growing legislative and legal momentum against restricting restroom access for transgender Americans.

The transgender-inclusive policy in the case is being defended by the ACLU of Pennsylvania. The anti-LGBTQ Alliance Defending Freedom brought the case.

Latest in the Case:

On September 24, the plaintiffs in the case, represented by the anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom, dropped their case after a series of legal defeats.

Case History:

  • August 26, 2017: U.S. District Court Judge Edward G. Smith denies the Alliance Defending Freedom’s motion for preliminary injunction, following several months of legal proceedings and hearings on the case.
  • September 26, 2017: Alliance Defending Freedom announces it will appeal the ruling to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • May 24, 2018: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit hears oral argument in the case in Philadelphia. The panel of judges takes only 30 minutes to rule and unanimously decides in favor of the district, upholding their transgender-inclusive bathroom policy.
  • June 18, 2018: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit publishes its formal opinion in the case, rejecting the plaintiffs’ claims that transgender-inclusive policies violate anyone’s privacy. The panel also goes further, saying that the school district’s trans-affirming policy is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments.
  • July 26, 2018: The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit denied the losing school district’s request for en banc rehearing. Simultaneously, the original 3-judge panel issued a revised ruling in the case. The revised ruling keeps in place the core of the previously issued decision from May but walks back slightly the previously-issued decision’s determination that the school’s trans-affirming policy was required by Title IX, finding that the facts of the case did not require a determination on this question.
  • November 19, 2018: The Alliance Defending Freedom representing the anti-LGBTQ parties file a petition for cert. to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case.
  • February 22, 2019: With the case fully briefed, the cert. petition is distributed for the February 22 conference at the U.S. Supreme Court, the first chance for the Justices to take action on the petition. The conference is later rescheduled, then distributed and rescheduled multiple times throughout the spring of 2019.
  • May 28, 2019: The U.S. Supreme Court denies review of the cert. petition, which upholds the 3rd Circuit ruling in favor of the school’s transgender-inclusive policies.
  • September 24, 2019: The plaintiffs and their counsel drop the case after a series of legal defeats.

Last Updated September 24, 2019


Equality Case Files Description ACLU of PA Case Page U.S. Supreme Court Docket

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