Transgender 17-year-old Drew Adams, a Nease High School student sued the school district for not allowing him to use the boy’s bathroom. Adams who had transitioned in 2015 had been using the boy’s room without incident for 6 weeks. But then, apparently without reason, he was told that he had to use either the girl’s bathroom or a single occupancy restroom which usually means the nurse’s office or Teacher’s lounge.
Why federal Judge Timothy Corrigan asked on Monday, can’t Drew Adams use the boys’ bathroom in St. Johns schools?
School district lawyers defended the schools’ action despite there being no official policy
“So it’s a policy that’s adopted by a committee. It’s never been adopted by the school board. It’s never been adopted by the school district. Yet it’s being enforced to the point of federal litigation?” Judge Corrigan asked.
According to Jacksonville.com the school district began its defense by calling on administrators to explain why they thought their policy promoted public safety. The district argues that its policies don’t discriminate against transgender students by requiring them to use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth or a gender-neutral restroom.
Sallyanne Smith, who served as the district’s director of student services and was responsible for recommending policies about transgender issues to the district before retiring last year, said she was concerned that allowing transgender students into the bathroom of their gender identities could lead to privacy or safety issues. She also testified that she extensively researched what had occurred at other school districts.
Corrigan repeatedly asked her if she was aware of any situation in any school district where a transgender student was involved in any bathroom incident. She said she wasn’t.
When the district’s own attorney asked her what LGBTQ stood for, Smith struggled to remember the words lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning.
When she said she was worried about whether Drew would be bullied or made fun of in a boys bathroom, Corrigan asked her about a hypothetical situation involving a transgender girl who had transitioned and now had long hair, developed breasts and a feminine appearance. “Do you perceive safety or privacy issues when that individual who was born a boy goes into the boys room?” he asked.
“Yes,” Smith admitted. “That’s why we would recommend the gender-neutral bathroom.”
Later, Corrigan asked Cathy Mittelstadt, the district’s deputy superintendent for operation, a similar hypothetical scenario, but she said she would have no safety concerns with transgender students using the bathroom of their biological sex.
Much of Drew Adams lawsuit pertains to the distance he must travel to use a single occupancy facility.
According to news 4 Jaxsonvile Judge Corrigan will visit the school presumably to judge for himself.