PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Civil rights lawyers in Philadelphia have just filed a first of its kind lawsuit in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
A high school student is suing a Pennsylvania school district after claiming “he was exposed involuntarily” to a transgender student while changing in the school’s locker room.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a self-described conservative Christian organization that “advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith,” said in a statement that the student and his parents are suing Boyertown Area School District for sexual harassment and violation of his personal privacy.
The group said the school district didn’t give any notice to students or parents that they would allow students to use restrooms or locker rooms of the gender they identify with.
“My client is standing up not only for himself but for others who feel bullied,” said Attorney Randall Wenger, with the Independence Law Center.
The student claims he was standing in his underwear about to put his gym clothes on when he noticed a transgender student in the locker room who was undressing.
That student was a girl at birth based on external anatomy, but identifies as a boy.
“It’s an egregious violation for the school to just brush off these students and tell them that their feelings don’t matter and to make it ‘as natural as they possibly can’,” added Wenger.
The group said “Joel Doe” brought a complaint to school officials and was told he needs to “tolerate” the decision.
“Our laws and customs have long recognized that we shouldn’t have to undress in front of persons of the opposite sex,” ADF Legal Counsel Kellie Fiedorek said in a statement. “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.”
Lawyers who filed the lawsuit in Philadelphia federal court say their goal is to get the Boyertown Area Senior School District to “reverse their policy of opening the boys’ locker room to biological females who identify as male”.
The Boyertown Area School District refused to comment on its locker room policy.
In a very brief statement the district superintendent acknowledged he had received demand letters from attorneys to change the locker room policy, but that “a complaint has not been officially served to the Boyertown Area School District.”
In the suit filed , the district has until April 4 to officially respond.