ACLU Takes Legal Action to Defend Rights of Transgender Students at Berks County School

April 03, 2017
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PHILADELPHIA — The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a legal motion today to defend a Berks County school district’s practice of allowing students to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

The motion was submitted in a lawsuit that is seeking to overturn the district’s practice. The ACLU’s action was filed on behalf of Aidan DeStefano, a student at Boyertown Area Senior High who is transgender, and the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, a coalition of LGBTQ youth leaders and youth organizations, including the Boyertown GSA, whose members include transgender students who would be harmed by the lawsuit.  

“Transgender students just want what everyone else wants, to be accepted for who we are,” said DeStefano. “Reversing the practices that have allowed me and other trans kids to thrive at school would be devastating.”

“Schools that foster inclusive environments for all students, including transgender youth, should be commended, not sued,” said Jason Landau Goodman of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress.

The lawsuit against the school district was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by a pair of conservative legal organizations, the Alliance Defending Freedom and Independence Law Center. The case is similar to lawsuits filed by those organizations around the country that seek to exclude transgender students from locker rooms and restrooms that match their gender identity.

“The Boyertown Area School District did the right thing in affirming and respecting their students’ gender identity,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “To foster a positive learning environment, students need an atmosphere that is supportive and respectful of who they are. Boyertown did that with this decision, and we intend to defend their practice in the interests of our clients.”

“It’s important that trans students are given the opportunity to defend themselves against these shameful attempts to isolate and stigmatize them,” said Leslie Cooper, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. “Schools can and should provide extra privacy protections or private restroom or changing areas for any student who requests it. But no student has a right to demand that transgender students be segregated from their peers.”

Counsel on the motion to intervene include Mary Catherine Roper of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Leslie Cooper of the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, and Amanda Nelson and Harper Seldin of Cozen O’Connor.  

The motion to intervene can be found here.

Category: LGBT Rights
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