Vigo Co. Schools sued over transgender restroom access

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A federal lawsuit filed Monday claims a western Indiana school district has been illegally denying two transgender high school students the use of school restrooms and locker rooms associated with their gender identity.

The lawsuit against the Vigo County School Corp. seeks a court order requiring school staffers to use the male names associated with the students’ gender identities and to use those names in school publications such as the yearbook.

The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on behalf of the Terre Haute North High School students claims the school district has violated their rights and represents intentional discrimination in violation of federal law.

Both students have identified as male since elementary school and have been diagnosed by health professionals as having gender dysphoria, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims high school administrators have refused to allow the students to use the male restrooms and have not instructed teachers to refer to them by their male names and pronouns as requested.

“Denying a student their right to use the correct restroom is discrimination, plain and simple,” ACLU of Indiana legal director Ken Falk said in a statement. “Schools should be a safe place for kids and the refusal to allow a student to use the correct restroom can be extremely damaging.”

A school district spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Transgender restroom rights have faced legal and political fights across the country.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected in June a Virginia school board’s appeal to reinstate its transgender bathroom ban. Lower courts ruled that the board’s policy was unconstitutional and discriminated against a student because he was required to use restrooms that corresponded with his biological sex — female — or private bathrooms.

Attorneys general from 20 states, including Indiana, sued President Joe Biden’s administration in August seeking to halt directives that extend federal sex discrimination protections to LGBTQ people, ranging from transgender girls participating in school sports to the use of school and workplace bathrooms that align with a person’s gender identity.

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