Oregon Judge Rejects Anti-Transgender Arguments, Upholding School District’s Inclusive Policy

By Adam Polaski • July 30, 2018 • 8:33 am

On July 24, Judge Marco A. Hernández ruled in the Oregon case of Parents for Privacy v. Sessions, a case that attacks a school district policy in Dallas, Oregon that affirms and respects the gender identity of transgender students. The federal judge in Oregon denied a motion for a preliminary injunction and granted a motion to dismiss from Basic Rights Oregon, a statewide LGBTQ organization in the Beaver State represented by the ACLU, which intervened in the case.

Transgender students, the judge wrote, should be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to the gender they identify with, stating in part: “Forcing transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity would undoubtedly harm those students and prevent them from equally accessing educational opportunities and resources.”

Judge Hernandez, granting the motions to dismiss, also determined that anti-transgender policies violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibit discrimination based on sex. The judge wrote:

“A court order directing District to require students to use only facilities that match their biological sex or to use gender-neutral alternative facilities would violate Title IX.”

The case is one of three last week that were decided in favor of transgender students. On Thursday, US District Court Judge Timothy J. Corrigan, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, issued a decision in the case of Adams v. School Board of St. John’s County, Florida that found the district’s anti-transgender restroom policy was a violation of Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. And on Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit issued a revised decision in the Doe v. Boyertown case, rejecting a similar anti-transgender “privacy argument.”

These decisions are the latest in a series of decisions affirming the rights of transgender students, often under Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. They are a clear indication that federal courts are arriving at a consensus that federal law forbidding discrimination based on “sex” already prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These cases about transgender students center on Title IX of the Education Amendments, but there is also a growing amount of case law affirming that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and housing, respectively.

These steps forward in court build fantastic momentum for the campaign to secure comprehensive nondiscrimination protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The reality is that in more than 30 states, LGBTQ Americans are not fully and explicitly protected from discrimination – and that is unacceptable when so many LGBTQ people experience discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. We must continue working every day against discrimination, building on court wins like this ruling in Parents for Privacy v. Sessions and legislative decisions like New Hampshire’s passage of #TransLawNH, until no American faces discrimination because of who they are or who they love.

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