BLOGThe Weekly Digest: 3-8-17

By James Arnold Posted on: | March 08, 2017
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On to the news.

 

Supreme Court Sends Student Privacy Case Back to 4th Circuit

 

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court sent Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit for reconsideration.

Here's what you need to know.

First, the background on the case:

"The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia sued the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia over its policy that protects students’ privacy and safety by reserving restrooms and locker rooms for members of the same biological sex, while providing an alternative private facility for students uncomfortable using a facility that corresponds with their sex. The ACLU asserted inaccurately that the school board violated Title IX, a federal law, and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause when the district declined to allow a female student to use the boys’ restrooms. Title IX specifically authorizes schools to have single-sex restrooms and locker rooms."

The ACLU’s lawsuit relied on an Obama administrative directive that inaccurately interpreted Title IX. The Trump administration recently rescinded that directive, and here's what ADF Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb had to say about it:

"President Trump, Secretary DeVos, and General Sessions have done the right thing for the privacy, safety, and dignity of young students across America. No longer will federal officials distort federal law that is meant to equalize educational opportunities for women, and no longer will they force local officials to intermingle boys and girls within private areas like locker rooms, showers, hotel rooms on school trips, and restrooms. Student privacy in those facilities must be protected, and by restoring the right understanding of Title IX, our nation also restores common sense: School officials should be free to protect their student’s privacy, safety, and dignity."

It was that move by the Trump administration that led the Supreme Court to send Gloucester back to the 4th Circuit.

ADF Legal Counsel Kerri Kupec had this to say about the Supreme Court's move:

"The first duty of school districts is to protect the bodily privacy rights of all of the students who attend their schools and to respect the rights of parents who understandably don’t want their children exposed in intimate changing areas like locker rooms and showers. President Trump, Attorney General Sessions, and Education Secretary DeVos rightly rescinded the faulty directive that the Departments of Education and Justice had issued during the Obama administration. It only makes sense for the Supreme Court to vacate the 4th Circuit’s earlier decision and instruct it to reconsider this case. The 4th Circuit should affirm the plain meaning of Title IX, which protects boys’ and girls’ privacy in locker rooms, showers, and restrooms. School officials should be free to protect their students’ privacy, safety, and dignity without federal government interference."

So, what does all of this mean?

Because the lower court relied on the Obama administrative directive that has now been rescinded, the Supreme Court has asked the 4th Circuit to examine the case again. SCOTUSblog has a good write-up if you'd like further information.

Learn more about what is at stake in this and similar cases by hearing from the unintended victims of policies that ignore the bodily privacy rights of students:

 
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James Arnold

News and Research Manager

James Arnold manages and edits the Alliance Alert, a daily repository of news in all forms—written, spoken, or in video format.

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