Last week, high school senior Alexis Lightcap came
forward to take a public stand against her school district, which refuses
to protect her privacy and the privacy of the other students in its care.
Area School District in Pennsylvania instituted a policy that authorizes students who
self-identify as the opposite sex to access the locker rooms, shower areas, and
restrooms of their choice in its schools. The district changed its policy
without ever informing students or parents. This led to multiple unexpected and
uncomfortable encounters by students who were shocked to find themselves
sharing a bathroom or changing in the locker room with a member of the opposite
I feel for Alexis and her classmates. I remember how
uncomfortable locker rooms could be as a teenager. As a student-athlete for
many years, I spent a lot of time in them. Not to mention, I come from a very
tall family. By the time I was in the sixth grade, I had the body of an adult
woman. Let’s just say that fact alone created plenty for a 12-year-old girl to
feel self-conscious about.
I also grew up in Arizona where temperatures regularly
surpass 90-100 degrees 6 months out of the year. So when the heat of the day
led to searches for a cooler hangout at lunchtime or after school, we girls
would regularly congregate in the restrooms—it was our space.
And according to Alexis, things haven’t changed much since I
was a kid.
she describes it, “The girls’ bathroom had always been the girls’ getaway
place—a place for privacy, mostly, but also a little refuge—a place to get away
from boys, maybe talk about boys, but not meet
What has changed
since I was a kid is that now some school districts are no longer protecting
these private spaces for the young men and women in their care. The result, as
Alexis is facing at Boyertown, is that any man can claim a female identity
and enter private spaces reserved for girls—and vice versa.
But that’s not all. Anyone who is uncomfortable with such a
policy—such as Alexis’ male classmate who uncomfortably found himself changing
in the boy’s locker room with a girl—is told by a school official to grin and
bear it, to make it feel “natural.”
there’s nothing natural about forcing teenage boys to share their school locker
rooms with girls. Because the differences between boys and
girls haven’t changed.
some of those who are tasked with protecting all students are choosing to
ignore that simple fact.
May 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled against student privacy in Doe v. Boyertown Area School District declaring that the
school district can enact a policy that forces students to sacrifice their own
personal privacy in these sex-specific private spaces.
This disappointing news came on the heels of an unfortunate
ruling by a U.S. district court in another student privacy case, Gloucester v. G.G. There, the situation was reversed: the school
district maintained a policy that protected the privacy of all its students by
keeping biological males in male facilities and biological females in female
facilities. A student who identified as a member of the opposite sex challenged the school
district’s policy. The school asked the judge to dismiss the case, but the judge’s ruling refused
to do so.
If you remember,
the Gloucester case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017, but was sent back to the
Fourth Circuit after the Trump Administration announced it was rescinding Obama-era
guidance that demanded school districts open their locker rooms, shower
facilities, and other private spaces to members of the opposite sex. (At the
time 8,914 concerned parents, students,
grandparents, and community members took a stand to protect privacy for our children and
grandchildren by signing our friend-of-the-court brief filed with the Supreme
judge in the Gloucester case explained that the school district might violate Title IX by
maintaining sex-specific locker rooms and restrooms. The judge referred to the student's argument as “a Title IX claim of sex discrimination under a gender stereotyping theory.”
together sex and gender identity, the Gloucester judge makes a fundamental
mistake. Sex and gender identity are two very different things. Gender identity
is based on a person’s feelings, while sex is determined by
activists are attempting to do is assert that the terms “gender identity” and
“sex” can be used interchangeably. They want any laws dealing with sex
discrimination, such as Title IX, to include gender identity by default.
But as ADF Senior
Counsel Jim Campbell wrote for The Daily
Nothing in Title
IX’s congressional history or its regulations suggests that Congress had gender
identity in mind when it used the word ‘sex.’ Nor is there any support in Title
IX for the novel idea that federal law requires boys who identify as girls to
share sleeping facilities, locker rooms, and restrooms with girls. On the
contrary, for over four decades Title IX and its regulations have explicitly
said that schools may implement sex-specific access policies for these sorts of
Alexis are also well aware that biology is the reason that sex-specific private facilities were established
in the first place—and it’s for that reason that student privacy matters.
don’t have a problem sharing a bathroom with someone who identifies as
transgender—provided they are the same sex I am,” Alexis told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "I do have trouble with a
policy that says anyone who’s in an opposite-sex mood today can stroll in and
observe me in my intimate moments—and with school officials who value the
feelings of a few students more than the dignity and privacy of all those in
Alexis’ school district has failed her and the countless other
students in their care. It is possible
to treat every student with dignity and respect. But that is not done by
ignoring the real differences between men and women. These differences mean
that privacy must be protected where it really counts—and that certainly includes
high school locker rooms and restrooms.