A central Ohio school district is suing the Department of Education over the recent federal directive which compelled schools across the nation to allow students to use bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and overnight accommodations in line with their gender identity and not birth gender.
Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education on the behalf of Highland Local School District in Morrow County which faces a civil rights complaint of discriminating against a transgender elementary school student who is biologically male but identifies as female. The school serves low-income families, and if it does not comply with the directive, it may lose about $1 million in grants that are used to improve teaching quality, provide free lunches, and cater to special-education needs, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom.
The school allowed the student to use staff restrooms and opened up the option to other kids in the class as well.
The school started addressing the student as a female since 2012 when the student was starting first grade, on the request of his legal guardian. However, the student was not allowed to use the girl's bathroom starting in second grade.
The lawsuit says that the Department of Education, one of the federal agencies which issued the directive regarding bathrooms, is violating the right of privacy of a majority of students.
"Schools have a duty to protect the dignity, privacy, and safety of all students. This is precisely what Highland Local School District has done," ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell said. "Despite that, the Department of Education is attempting to strong-arm Highland into complying with a lawless demand to open its single-sex overnight accommodations, locker rooms, showers, and restrooms to students of the opposite sex. The DOE is trying to redefine a federal law that only Congress can change."
Emily LeVan, the child's mother, had filed a Title IX complaint against the school board. The district had until the end of this month to allow the transgender student to use the girl's bathroom. The school says that the federal funding should not be held back for not letting locker rooms and restrooms to be used by the students of the opposite sex.
"I am very frustrated that they're using school resources, they're wasting school resources. They are risking losing that federal funding so that they can have a license to discriminate," LeVan told 10 TV.
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) asked the school to permit transgender student to use girls' restroom even after the district said that such a step might compromise privacy rights of other students.
"As a result, Highland faces an impossible choice: capitulate to Defendants' demands and sacrifice the dignity and privacy rights of their students; or protect those rights and watch Defendants strip away more than a million dollars each year in federal funding devoted to special-education programs, lunches for underprivileged children, and educational advancement," the lawsuit states.