Alexis Lightcap’s story began many years ago. As a child, Alexis and her sister were taken away from their biological mother and put into foster care. It was an incredibly difficult experience. She felt like her life was out of control and that she had no voice. Fortunately, she was eventually adopted by her forever family and began to develop some stability in her life. But her tumultuous childhood shaped her. As Alexis recounts it, she was “so quiet” as a child, and “didn’t have [her] own voice.” Others spoke for her. It wasn’t until she was adopted and taught by her parents that her voice mattered, and that she could stand up for herself, that Alexis really began to speak out.
Even though Alexis gained a loving family and stable home life through her adoption, moving to Boyertown hasn’t been easy. Alexis is African American. She’s one of less than a handful of black students among the 1800+ students at Boyertown High. And she knows what real discrimination feels like.
But these difficult experiences have made her stronger. She is not one to dwell on things or worry about circumstances that are out of her hands. Alexis’s experience as an adopted child and a racial minority have shaped her into a courageous young woman who is willing to stand up against injustice. Because, after all, she didn’t have to take on this litigation against Boyertown Area High.
The lawsuit was filed in March 2017 with just one plaintiff—Joel Doe. But when Alexis heard about the lawsuit, she knew that she was called to join. Why? Because she felt that her voice brought something different—and needed—to the conversation. A female’s perspective on privacy needed to be heard.
And Alexis had had her own negative experience with the school’s unannounced policy. One day during her junior year at school, Alexis walked into the girl’s restroom, and was shocked to see a boy in her bathroom, washing his hands. She froze, knowing that something was very wrong, but not knowing what to do. Alexis turned, ran out of the bathroom, and reported the incident to a school instructor. But the school administration did nothing. Instead of listening to her concerns, the administration made Alexis feel as if she were the problem for feeling uncomfortable, unsafe, and vulnerable with a boy in her bathroom.
Instead, Alexis was forced to change her conduct. For months afterwards, she avoided using the main girls’ restrooms on the off-chance that she might find a boy there again. She felt like she had to protect herself and be more cautious. And it seemed fundamentally unfair—as a female, she should be able to use the female’s privacy spaces without fearing that she’ll encounter a male. She should be able to change clothes in the common areas without fearing that she’ll be seen by a male. And she should be able to attend to the most private, intimate needs of her body knowing that only other girls will observe or overhear her. Alexis has no problem sharing her privacy facilities with students who identify as transgender as long as they are the same sex as she.
So, she joined the lawsuit against her school. This David vs. Goliath endeavor hasn’t been easy, even as a plaintiff proceeding under a pseudonym. While many people are quietly supportive of the student plaintiffs, Alexis hears some people vocally dehumanizing the courageous students who simply ask that their privacy be protected. But the journey hasn’t been without its silver lining. Alexis said this experience has taught her to rely completely on the Lord—she has no choice to do anything but.
Though in many ways her story and strength sets her apart from the average high school student, in other ways, Alexis is just a typical high school girl. She’s bubbly and personable. She likes to hang out with friends and text on her cell phone. She played tennis. She sang in choir. She participated in student council, and even won two awards—at one time, coming in as #2 for best personality, and another time being voted #1 class clown.
But where she sets herself apart is in her courage to stand up against injustice. Boyertown High School failed to protect Alexis’s privacy, or listen to her voice. So Alexis is simply asking the court to protect the privacy, safety, and dignity of every student.
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Doe v. Boyertown Area School District
What's at stake
- Protecting the privacy, safety, and dignity of all students.
Without informing students or their parents, the Boyertown Area School District in Pennsylvania changed its policy to allow students who identify with the opposite sex to access opposite-sex privacy facilities. In October 2016, Joel Doe was changing for gym in the boys’ locker room, and noticed a female student (who identifies as a male) also changing in the locker room. Both students were in a state of undress. When Doe reported the incident to his assistant principal, he was told to “tolerate it” and “make it as natural as possible." Subsequently, Alexis Lightcap encountered a boy washing his hands in the girls’ bathroom. She, too, reported the incident, but the school administration took no action.
Our role in this case
ADF attorneys are co-counsel in the case.