Fairfield Area School District
October 10, 2022
We understand there continues to be questions surrounding federally mandated protections for transgender students. Specifically, some have questioned whether the School District could require a transgender student to use only the single-user restroom as an accommodation under Title IX. Some feel that this accommodation would go far enough, and that the transgender student does not have a right to use the facilities consistent with their gender identity.
This issue was addressed in a federal court decision called Doe vs. Boyertown Area School District. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued the decision in 2018. It is the same federal court with jurisdiction over our school district and across Pennsylvania. In the Boyertown case, the Court upheld the practice of the Boyertown Area School District of accommodating transgender students by allowing them to use locker rooms and restrooms consistent with their gender identity. The Court further ruled that “barring transgender students from restrooms that align with their gender identity would itself pose a potential” Title IX sex discrimination violation. Requiring them to use separate single-user facilities would be a stigmatizing practice, also amounting to illegal discrimination. Therefore, the Court did NOT endorse the plaintiff’s position that transgender students should be required to use separate facilities. You are welcome to read the full decision. In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take the case on appeal, which means the Boyertown ruling remains in place today.
In addition to the Boyertown decision, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has clearly stated that transgender students should be permitted to use the facilities consistent with their gender identity. To require a transgender student to use separate single-user facilities would violate Title IX; OCR has repeatedly stated that transgender students should not be denied access to the facilities consistent with their gender identity. OCR is the federal agency charged with enforcing Title IX, and it has the authority to withhold federal funding and issue sanctions for any violations of Title IX. All of OCR’s resources can be reviewed on their website.
Fairfield Area School District will comply with the federal court ruling in the Boyertown case as well as guidance from the Office for Civil Rights. Our approach is consistent with these federal mandates. While we certainly offer single-user facilities to ALL students, we do not have legal authority to require students to use separate facilities that conflict with their gender identity. We are not aware of any cases in which a public entity successfully challenged this approach. We must provide equal treatment to all students. We will continue to monitor the status of the law and make appropriate adjustments to our procedures, as necessary.