A federal judge in Oregon issued a ruling this week in favor of transgender students, saying that forcing them to use restrooms that correspond with the gender they were assigned at birth would violate civil rights law.
In a 56-page opinion released Tuesday, Judge Marco A. Hernández of Federal District Court in Portland said that transgender students should be allowed to use bathrooms that match the gender they identify with. The ruling upheld the policy of a school district in Dallas, Ore., that allowed a male transgender student to use the boys’ restrooms, showers and locker rooms.
The judge dismissed claims by some students and parents saying that other male students experienced “embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety, intimidation, fear, apprehension and stress produced by using the restroom with students of the opposite sex.”
Judge Hernandez wrote in his opinion, “Forcing transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity would undoubtedly harm those students and prevent them from equally accessing educational opportunities and resources.”
An evolving battle over transgender rights is taking place across the country, and it has been waged most prominently over access to school bathrooms.
In 2016, North Carolina legislators ignited a nationwide controversy when they passed a law requiring people in publicly owned buildings to use the restroom that corresponded with the gender they were assigned at birth.
The law, which was eventually repealed in March 2017, brought the state heavy criticism from major corporations; the N.C.A.A. said it would stop hosting championship events in the state; and the Justice Department, under President Barack Obama, sued the state, saying the North Carolina law was prohibited by federal civil rights laws.
President Trump has reversed course from many of the Obama administration’s positions on transgender rights, last year moving to curtail protections for such students and pointing to the role of states and school districts in setting policy.
Transgender rights advocates were dealt a further blow when, prompted by the Trump administration’s reversal, the Supreme Court declined to decide a case that could have potentially solidified for the first time transgender protections nationwide, similar to the court’s support of same-sex marriage in 2015.
Since then, both advocates and opponents of transgender rights have turned to lower courts.
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SOURCE: NY Times, Mihir Zaveri