ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. -
A federal judge ruled against the Pine-Richland School District on Monday in a lawsuit over transgender students’ bathroom rights.
The judge ruled that the district must allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches the gender with which they identify.
Three transgender students, including Jackie Evancho’s sister, Juliet Evancho, sued the district in October
. Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit on the students’ behalf after the Pine-Richland School Board in September voted to reverse the school district's longstanding, inclusive restroom practice.
“These three students stood up for who they are and the district has to recognize they have legal responsibility to treat them with respect,” Lambda Legal staff attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan said.
The students' attorney said that this ruling sends a bigger message to other schools.
“(If) any district violates rights of students, they will be subject to a lawsuit. We'll see you in court,” Gonzalez-Pagan said.
The ruling comes less than a week after the Trump administration lifted federal guidelines that allowed transgender students to use school bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities.
The administration came down on the side of states' rights, lifting Obama-era federal guidelines that had been characterized by Republicans as an example of overreach.
Pine-Richland School District school board member Peter Lyons sent Channel 11 the following statement:
“Judge Hornak's decision is well reasoned and welcomed by many in our community. It dispels the myths and unfounded fears that are often put forth to justify discrimination. It restores the Constitutional rights of students that were in place in our district for many years without incident.”
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