High school students ask nation’s highest court to intervene and protect their fundamental right to privacy
(November 19, 2018) Today the Harrisburg-based Independence Law Center and the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a petition for review before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of six students in the Boyertown Area School District in Boyertown, Pa.
Unbeknownst to students or parents, the school district enacted an unwritten policy that allows students of one biological sex to access the locker room and restrooms of the opposite sex if they identify with that sex.
Two of the student petitioners only learned of the policy when they were in the midst of changing in the locker room and found a member of the opposite sex undressing next to them. When a number of students went to see their principal seeking relief, they were told to “tolerate” the situation and to make it “natural.”
The lawsuit, Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, claims the policy is a violation of students’ fundamental right to bodily privacy. The lawsuit also claims the policy exposes the students to sexual harassment in violation of federal law.
“Differences between boys and girls matter in places like locker rooms, restrooms, and showers. Schools shouldn’t force students to pretend that those differences don’t exist,” said Randall Wenger, Chief Counsel of the Independence Law Center.
“Our right to bodily privacy exists because of the anatomical differences between the sexes, and that right to privacy from the opposite sex is most profound in those places specifically set apart to undress outside of the presence of the opposite sex,” added Wenger.
Independence Law Center and ADF attorneys filed the petition today with the Supreme Court after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled against the students in July. They are seeking court action to reinstate the school’s prior and longstanding policy so that only biological girls use the girls’ facilities and only biological boys use the boys’ facilities.
“A girl’s privacy doesn’t spring into existence or cease to exist based on what a boy thinks about his gender,” said Jeremy Samek, Independence Law Center Senior Counsel.
Independence Law Center is a Pennsylvania-based pro-bono legal organization dedicated to advancing civil rights.