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Transgender Students Who Sued Because Of Restrictive Bathroom Policy Settle With District

Elaine Thompson
In this May 17, 2016 file photo, a new sticker is placed on the door at the ceremonial opening of a gender neutral bathroom at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle.

The attorney representing three former students who sued the Pine-Richland School District says the parties are expected to sign a settlement in the next few days.

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, with New York-based Lambda Legal which advocates for LGBTQIA rights, declined to comment on the terms of the settlement until then.

The board approved the settlement 6-2 last week. In the same vote it adopted an updated nondiscrimination policy that allows transgender students to use a bathroom corresponding to their gender identity, and their preferred name and pronoun without legal documentation. The three students attorney Gonzalez-Pagan represents graduated in June.

“I think the policies that were adopted here as a result of this agreement speak well of the Pine-Richland School District in agreeing to them and really is a good outcome that other schools should emulate,” he said.

Last year, the district north of Pittsburgh approved a policy that required students to use a bathroom corresponding to their biological sex. In February, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the policy was discriminatory and ordered an injunction.

His ruling stated, “Unlike every other student, the plaintiffs would have to use restrooms where they are wholly unlike everyone else in appearance, manner, model of living and treatment at school.”

The ruling determined the policy discriminated against students based on, “transgender status.”

District spokesperson Rachel Hathhorn confirmed in a written statement that the district has reached an agreement with the students.

“As a result, any student across the District may access restrooms based upon his or her consistently and uniformly asserted gender identity. Any student may also access a single-user restroom. As part of the settlement, the District has updated and board approved various policies and other documents. In addition, an Administrative Regulation has been developed to provide clarity around this topic,” she said in the statement.

In February, the U.S. Justice and Education departments reversed an Obama administration directive passed in May that allowed transgender students to use the public school facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity.