Minnesota Parents Withdraw Lawsuit Over Transgender Student

Recent actions by the Trump Administration over Title IX Federal guidelines prompt parents to voluntarily end lawsuit

Photo credit: Mesabi Daily News

VIRGINIA, MINN – In the wake of recent actions by the Trump Administration, a group of parents and students voluntarily ended their lawsuit Thursday against the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Justice, and a Minnesota school district over a transgender student sharing locker rooms.

According to a press release from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represented the families who filed the suit, “positive actions that the two federal agencies and the district have taken to respect the privacy, safety, and dignity of all students in intimate changing areas, such as locker rooms,” prompted the withdrawal.

In the court document filed on Thursday, the group said it was voluntarily dismissing the suit without prejudice.

Alpha News reported last October, a Virginia MN transgender high school student’s use of the girls locker room triggered the lawsuit which made the Minnesota town the focus of a national debate over transgender rights.

The group of parents, called “Privacy Matters,” filed the lawsuit in September arguing that allowing transgender students into facilities puts the other students at risk when a biological male student uses a locker room alongside their biological female students. Ten families in the school district comprised “Privacy Matters.”

“No student should be forced to use private facilities at school, like locker rooms and restrooms with students of the opposite sex,” said the lawsuit.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the transgender student stating a student should be allowed to use restrooms that are in line with their gender identity and have a right “to access facilities consistent with her gender identity on a nondiscriminatory basis.”

In February, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos revoked federal guidelines over the rights of transgender students to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity. As Alpha News reported, Minnesota Senator Al Franken joined five other senator’s expressing outrage over DeVos’ decision.

“By revoking the transgender guidance, you have put the safety and well-being of transgender students at risk,” the senators wrote to DeVos.

In 2016, The Obama administration issued a letter to schools providing guidelines on Title IX protections to transgender and gender nonconforming students. Title IX is the federal law which bans sex discrimination in education, but questions remained if the law’s protections include a person’s gender identity. DeVos’ department announced it was rescinding that letter of guidance to schools in February because it violated federal anti-discrimination laws, reported the Washington Post.

According to the press release from ADF, various actions by Minnesota’s Virginia Public Schools to protect and accommodate student privacy prompted the families, through their ADF attorneys, to file a voluntary dismissal with the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota that leaves open the option to refile the case if the need ever arises again.

ADF Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb said in a statement, “School policies should respect the bodily privacy rights and safety of every student. By rejecting the prior administration’s directive that imposed a meaning on Title IX that it simply doesn’t have, the federal government has again recognized that school officials shouldn’t be forced to intermingle he sexes in private facilities like locker rooms. For that reason, and because the school has taken steps to protect our clients’ privacy, we are voluntarily ending the lawsuit. We will, of course, monitor the situation to ensure that the rights of these young students will continue to be respected.”

Donna Azarian