Monday, January 20, 2020
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ACLU joins Frederick Co. transgender case

Several anonymous students have filed a lawsuit in federal district court asking the Frederick County Public Schools in Maryland to reconsider two policies enacted in June that safeguard the rights of transgender students, and one transgender boy, JVK, would like the court to dismiss that request so he can feel safe and welcome in the learning environment school should be.

(Cory Thomas via Flickr Creative Commons)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland has joined the lawsuit on his side and argues that the new policies, known as policies 437 and 443, “protect transgender students like JVK from bullying and harassment based on his gender identity, allow him to use restrooms consistent with his gender identity, and direct staff to use his correct names and pronouns.”

When JVK first discovered he was a boy, living in West Virginia, he says life was difficult. But a few years after he moved to Maryland and enrolled at Governor Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, teachers started referring to him by the correct pronouns, calling him by his legal name, and allowing him to use restrooms that corresponded to his gender identity, not his anatomical sex. This welcoming environment may be due, in part, to the new policies.

He’s an honor student at the school and has won various awards in social studies and English. He also founded the school’s Gender Sexuality Alliance.

The lawsuit filed anonymously asks the district to revoke the policies, mainly because the federal government recently rescinded guidance under Title IX that bears directly on cases like this. The district could revoke the policies, but the ACLU argues that such a move …

would directly affect JVK in a personal and immediate way: he would be barred from using the boys’ restrooms, which for him would be devastating, humiliating, and stigmatizing. And he would return to feeling unsafe at school without having policies in place that he could rely on. Thus, JVK faces real and personal consequences in this case. He will be disadvantaged if Plaintiffs obtain the relief they seek, and that disadvantage is not the same as that faced by the Board of Education.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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