Independence Law Center and allied attorneys request full 3rd Circuit to take their case challenging PA school district’s unwritten policy
PHILADELPHIA – Six students from the Boyertown Area School District and their families filed an appeal Monday asking the full U.S. Court of Appeals to take up their case after a three-judge panel ruled against the protection of their privacy.
“No student should be put into an intimate setting—like a locker room or shower—with someone of the opposite sex,” said Randall Wenger, chief counsel of the Independence Law Center.
During the 2016-17 school year—without informing parents or students—the school district secretly opened its high school locker rooms, showers, and restrooms to students of the opposite sex, which violated students’ bodily privacy rights. Some of the students in the suit involuntarily encountered students of the opposite sex in various states of undress in school restrooms and locker rooms.
Immediately after the 3rd Circuit panel’s ruling against student privacy rights, Alexis Lightcap (pictured, right), a student at Boyertown Area Senior High School who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit commented, “Today’s ruling was very disappointing, and made me feel—again—like my voice was not heard. Every student’s privacy should be protected.”
The lawsuit, Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, claims violation of the fundamental right to bodily privacy under the U.S. Constitution; sexual harassment under Title IX, a federal law; and violation of a state privacy law.
“The panel’s decision is out of step with longstanding legal protection for privacy,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “That’s why we are asking the full 3rd Circuit to weigh in on the valid concerns of these students.”
“The Boyertown District could have crafted policies that respect the privacy concerns of all students and are also sensitive to the needs of individual students,” comments Wenger. “Instead, the district failed to fulfill its responsibility and harmed students rightfully concerned about their bodily privacy. The district must correct its policy—not only for our clients, but for all students within the district.”
Independence Law Center is a Pennsylvania-based pro-bono legal organization advancing civil rights.