Teen boy claims changing in locker room with transgender boy is ‘sexual harassment,’ sues school district
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A lawsuit has been filed in Pennsylvania federal court against the Boyertown Area School District over its trans-inclusive accommodations policy.
According to CBS Philly, a cisgender high school student referred to as “Joel Doe” was changing in the men’s locker room when he saw a transgender boy sharing the locker room as well, undressing. Doe, who was in his underwear, “experienced immediate confusion, embarrassment, humiliation, and loss of dignity upon finding himself in this circumstance,” according to the lawsuit.
A Christian legal organization, Alliance Defending Freedom, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Doe and his family. The group is hoping to reverse the trans-inclusive policy, forcing transgender women to change with cisgender men and transgender men to change with cisgender women.
“Our laws and customs have long recognized that we shouldn’t have to undress in front of persons of the opposite sex,” the ADF’s legal counsel, Kellie Fiedorek, told CBS. “But now some schools are forcing our children into giving up their privacy rights even though, in this case, Pennsylvania law requires schools to have separate facilities on the basis of sex.”
The lawsuit’s move to segregate based on gender assigned at birth, instead of gender identity, isn’t a new development. But filing a brief based on “sexual harassment” grounds makes the case a contentious civil rights issue.
Transgender-exclusionary feminists (or TERFs) have often pushed back against sharing women’s rooms with transgender women, with the anti-trans Women’s Liberation Front (or WoLF) arguing that transgender acceptance would violate women’s “rights to personal privacy and freedom from male sexual harassment, forced exposure to male nudity, and voyeurism.” If the lawsuit succeeds, that rhetoric may have a legal precedent.
Suffice to say, LGBTQ activists are upset. Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network Executive Director Eliza Byard stresses that allowing transgender students to access the facilities that correspond with their gender identity “cannot constitute sexual harassment” by any means. “The existence of a transgender person living their life appropriately at school cannot constitute sexual harassment,” Byard said, according to Pink News. “It might make another student uncomfortable, and in that case, there is a common sense legal remedy of providing separate accommodations to the student who feels uncomfortable.”
Byard also blames the Trump administration’s rollback on transgender education guidelines, leading to mass confusion around school districts and giving anti-trans opponents the opportunity to push forward on policies that discriminate against trans students.
“The actions of our current administration have created confusion and a perceived opportunity to roll back the support currently available to trans students across the country,” Byard explained. Since then, the Trump administration has deferred to state governments for trans policies and laws.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.