The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case that involved the rights of transgender students in Oregon and their use of school bathrooms and locker rooms that aligned with their gender. The case was originally brought by parents of some high school students in 2017 challenging the decisions made by school officials in Dallas, Oregon, to allow Elliot Yoder to use the boys’ locker and bathroom facilities. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Oregon intervened on behalf of Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) in defending the district’s decision. A federal appeals court had previously found in Yoder’s favor, and the decision by the Supreme Court to not hear the case allows that earlier ruling to stand.
“The Supreme Court has once again said that transgender youth are not a threat to other students,” Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice for the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV project, said in a statement. “As we look towards state legislative sessions that will likely continue the attacks on trans youth, the decision not to take this case is an important and powerful message to trans and non-binary youth that they deserve to share space with and enjoy the benefits of school alongside their non-transgender peers.
“Today’s decision is excellent news for transgender students,” Mara Keisling, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement. “Trans students deserve an educational environment that is safe, supportive and free from discrimination. The school district’s actions to create that environment have been vindicated.”
Parents had claimed allowing Yoder to use the same facilities as other boys would violate the rights of students who would be uncomfortable or embarrassed when undressing. The earlier ruling rejected those concerns, saying they did not outweigh the rights of Yoder.
Judge A. Wallace Tashima of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote “A policy that allows transgender students to use school bathroom and locker facilities that match their self-identified gender in the same manner that cisgender students utilize those facilities does not infringe Fourteenth Amendment privacy or parental rights or First Amendment free exercise rights, nor does it create actionable sex harassment under Title IX.”
While pleased with the court’s decision, Strangio and the ACLU remained committed to fighting for inclusive and affirming spaces for transgender students.
“We will continue to fight in courts, in legislatures, and in our families and communities to ensure that all trans people feel safe and belong,” Strangio said.