Court rules transgender teen’s rights were violated by EVSC

Updated: Jun. 7, 2019 at 10:10 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - U.S. District Court Judge William T. Lawrence Friday issued a ruling which determined that the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) violated a transgender high school student’s rights.

The ACLU of Indiana claims the school district refused to allow the student to use the male restrooms, consistent with his gender identity.

The organization sued in February of last year on behalf of the student who says he was not only denied that right, but faced discipline, if he attempted to use that restroom.

The former student is now 18-years-old. His birth certificate, along with his driver’s license, both show female. But, he has long identified as male, realizing he was transgender at just 11-years-old.

Celebrating Pride month, Haynie’s Corner was filled tonight with many in the LGBTQ community and its allies for First Friday.

“We’re not going to stand for this mistreatment anymore, and thanks to them paving the way for us, we’re allowed to come out here and celebrate,” Queer Spaces, Maxwell Hedon said.

This, only hours after the ACLU says a transgender Evansville student won a legal battle over bathroom access. Judge Lawrence ruled that the denial of J.A.W.’s right to use the male restrooms violated both the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a).

“Anything we can do to help to trans-youth when they are in school, to be able to stay there, be safe, and be supported by their schools is something to celebrate,” Kit Malone, an advocate and educator for LGBTQ Rights told 14 News by phone.

The teen has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, is under a physician’s care and is taking hormone therapy.

“You catch yourself in the wrong bathroom, at the right time of the day with the wrong students, you get your butt kicked,” Hedon added. “There’s no cameras, not that I think there should be cameras. But there’s no proof. The administration is not going to protect anyone who gets beat up in those situations.”

EVSC argued the case should be over now that the student has graduated. Their second motion to dismiss was denied.

“We said the case was now moot,” Patrick Shoulders, General Council to EVSC explained. “There was nothing left to decide... That the student is now longer under our supervision or control. We can’t tell him or her where to go to the bathroom, and therefore there is nothing left for the court."

The parties need to determine when to set a trial to sort out damages.

The case will move forward despite the fact that the teen is no longer a student.

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