A federal judge has ruled that an Indiana school district must allow a transgender student to use the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity.
Judge William Lawrence in Indianapolis issued a preliminary injunction on Friday requiring the Evansville Banderburgh School Corp. (EVSC) to allow a transgender high school student to use male bathrooms, The Courier & Press reported on Monday.
The student, identified by his initials, J.A.W., filed a lawsuit through the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in February.
J.A.W. argued that the school district was violating his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and Title IX when he was told he had to use either the women’s restrooms or a private bathroom near the nurse’s office.
The student, who was born female, was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and prescribed hormone medications, according to the newspaper.
He testified in a July 20 hearing that the school was very accommodating when he approached them with other requests, including how he would be addressed.
The high school student, however, was allegedly told he could be disciplined for using male restrooms.
EVSC attorney Pat Shoulders said during last month's hearing that a child’s birth certificate is used to determine bathroom usage, something he called “an objective standard.”
Changing that policy “would result in chaos,” Shoulders said at the hearing, adding that the student could use the male bathrooms if his legal documentation was changed from female to male.
The student was born outside Indiana in a state that will not change the gender identification on a birth certificate without documented surgery, the newspaper noted.
The ACLU argued that transgender students can face increased bullying if they are denied access to the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Some students may avoid using the restroom entirely throughout the school day, the group said.
The judge agreed and found that J.A.W.’s claims of discrimination were “likely to prevail.”
“The likely negative emotional consequences of being denied access to the boys’ restrooms at school would constitute irreparable harm to J.A.W.,” Lawrence wrote in his ruling.
The student is slated to graduate in December.
Shoulders told the newspaper that he will appeal the temporary injunction.
“This ruling pertains to one student and one student only out of the 2,300 who will begin the school year on Wednesday,” Shoulders said. “The EVSC will continue as it has in the past to comply with Indiana law and Indiana Department of Education regulations."
"All federal statutes as interpreted by the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Department of Education. All of which seem to suggest that sex is determined biologically not psychologically," he added.
The Trump administration announced last year that it was rolling back protections extended under the Obama administration that allowed children to use school bathrooms and other facilities that correspond to their gender identities.
Lawrence’s ruling came days after a federal judge in Oregon ruled that transgender students have the right to use restrooms based on their gender identity.