Indiana school district renews legal fight after court blocks rule separating bathrooms by biological sex

Indiana AG Todd Rokita is backing a local school district in the middle of a legal battle over whether school facilities should be separate based on a student's biological sex.

Sep 2, 2023 - 18:30
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Indiana school district renews legal fight after court blocks rule separating bathrooms by biological sex

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is supporting a school district in its fight to maintain separate bathrooms based on a student's biological sex, he told Fox News Digital on Friday.

Metropolitan School District of Martinsville filed an appeal of a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decision Aug. 24 to reverse its action and instead "preserve the autonomy of school boards to make decisions."

A lower court's previous ruling determined that Martinsville and the Vigo County School Corporation must allow students to use school facilities like bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity after students filed lawsuits in 2021.

"This is about dividing children from their parents," Rokita told Fox News Digital. "It's a lot more than just bathrooms and locker rooms."

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The lawsuits allege that students were diagnosed with gender dysphoria and therefore should be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. 

Twin 15-year-old high school students in the Vigo County School Corporation reportedly argued that gender dysphoria and a disruptive colon condition that impacts their ability to use the restroom should allow them to use male restrooms. 

A 13-year-old middle school student in the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville argued that the school district allegedly violated Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. It was enacted as part of the Education Amendments of 1972.

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"Students who are denied access to the appropriate facilities are caused both serious emotional and physical harm as they are denied recognition of who they are. They will often avoid using the restroom altogether while in school," Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, told the AP last month. "Schools should be a safe place for kids and the refusal to allow a student to use the correct facilities can be extremely damaging."

Rokita leads a 21-state coalition helping school districts pass policies that keep school facilities categorized by a student's sex listed on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity. 

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"These issues are much more than just the issue at hand that they're attacking," Rokita said. "This is about . . . not just social, cultural war issues. Because all of these issues are rooted in economics."

The Supreme Court may be prepared to get more involved with such lawsuits in school districts across the country, some speculate. Last month, the California attorney general announced a lawsuit against the Chino Valley Unified School District over its parental-notification policy that mandates that schools must tell parents if their child identifies as transgender or uses pronouns different to their biological sex. 

"Litigation over transgender rights is occurring all over the country, and we assume that at some point the Supreme Court will step in with more guidance than it has furnished so far," the appeals opinion stated. 

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