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Federal Appeals Court Affirms Bathroom Access For Transgender Students In Indiana

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s ruling, ensuring that transgender students in Indiana have access to bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identities.

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Ruling Reinforces Injunction for School Districts

The ruling by the appeals court validates a preliminary injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana last year. The injunction compelled the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville and the Vigo County Schools to grant transgender students access to appropriate facilities.

ACLU Welcomes the Decision

Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana, expressed support for the appeals court’s decision. He emphasized that denying students access to suitable facilities causes emotional and physical harm, and schools should be safe places for all students.

School Districts React to the Ruling

Martinsville Superintendent Eric Bowlen stated that they are reviewing the decision and considering available options. The Vigo County School Corp. also confirmed that they are evaluating the ruling with legal counsel.

Potential Involvement of Supreme Court

The court opinion suggests that the U.S. Supreme Court may eventually hear this case or similar ones, as litigation over transgender rights is a nationwide issue that requires clearer guidance.

Credits: DepositPhotos

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Laws Across States and Title IX

While Indiana currently lacks laws restricting bathroom access for transgender students, approximately eleven other states have enacted such laws. The initial ruling cited Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which protects individuals from sex-based discrimination in federally assisted education programs.

Background of the Case

The case originated from John R. Wooden Middle School in Martinsville, where a seventh-grader, identified as A.C., sought restroom access corresponding to their gender identity during the ongoing legal proceedings.

The Ongoing Legal Battle

The ACLU and Indiana Legal Services filed the lawsuit against the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville in December 2021 on behalf of the transgender student. 

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