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Federal appeals court upholds Pennsylvania school district's inclusive transgender locker room policy

[JURIST] A three-judge panel on the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] on Thursday rejected [judgment, PDF] a student's argument that a school district's transgender bathroom policy was an unconstitutional violation of his privacy, affirming the lower court's decision.

The lawsuit involved Pennsylvania Boyertown Area School District, which had a practice of allowing transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. A non-transgender student filed the suit claiming that this was a violation of his privacy.

"Plaintiffs have not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits and that they have not established that they will be irreparably harmed if their Motion to Enjoin the Boyertown School District's policy is denied," the court said in its judgment, citing the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania's [official website] holding [opinion, PDF] in August 2017 as "an exceptionally well reasoned Opinion."

A formal opinion from the court of appeals will follow soon.

In a statement [press release] from the ACLU, which filed a motion to intervene [text] in the case on behalf of a transgender student and an LGBTQ youth organization, staff attorney Ria Tabacco Mar with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project said, "The court saw that treating transgender students equally does not harm any other students in the school. All students should have the opportunity to fully participate in school. Boyertown's practice makes that possible."

This decision sits among other wins just this week in federal court for LGBT activists, including another similar holding regarding transgender bathroom access. On Monday a US District Judge in Virginia held [JURIST report] in favor of a transgender teen against a school's bathroom policy. And Tuesday a federal judge in Missouri held [JURIST report] that a prison's policy of refusing hormone therapy treatments to its transgender inmates was an unconstitutional violation of the Eighth Amendment.

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