By a vote of seven to four, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals said on Friday that the policy, which was made by a school board in St. Johns County, Florida, did not break the Equal Protections Clause of the US Constitution or federal civil rights law.
Tara Borelli, a lawyer with the LGBTQ civil rights group Lambda Legal, which was involved in the case said:
This is an aberrant ruling that contradicts the rulings of every other circuit to consider the question across the country. We will be reviewing and evaluating this dangerous decision over the weekend.- Tara Borelli, a lawyer with the LGBTQ civil rights group Lambda Legal
The ruling is a win for conservatives who have tried to make institutions all over the country follow strict ideas about gender. Oklahoma became the latest state to sign a "bathroom bill" into law in May. This law says that students in public schools must use bathrooms, changing rooms, and showers that match the sex on their birth certificate.
LGBTQ groups have fought back, saying that lawmakers are making people afraid of and angry at transgender people. Lambda Legal is also going to federal court to fight the Oklahoma law.
The policy in St. Johns County, Florida, also made it so that transgender students had to use the bathroom for their biological sex instead of the one that matched their chosen identity.
Three girls in a toilet discussing
Drew Adams, a transgender man who went to Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and was not allowed to use the men's bathroom, fought against the policy in 2017.
The government of US President Joe Biden asked the circuit court to throw out the rule, but the court voted to keep it in place. Six of the seven judges in the majority were picked by former Republican President Donald Trump, who rolled back protections for transgender people while he was in office.
States and local governments all over the US have continued to work on policies that critics say are unfair to transgender people. For example, transgender youth would not be allowed to join sports teams or compete in events that match their gender identity.
This month, a lawsuit was also filed against the US state of Georgia. The lawsuit says that the state's healthinsurance policy is illegally biased because it doesn't pay for healthcare that is supportive of a person's gender identity.
The lawsuit says that the exclusion sends a message to transgender people and the public that their state government doesn't think they deserve equal treatment. LGBTQ people in the US are worried that conservative leaders' harsh words about them have created a volatile environment and an "epidemic of hate."
Across the US, people on the right, including sometimes members of armed militias, have protested drag shows. Many bomb threats have been made against a children's hospital in Boston that treats people based on their gender identity. And last month, a gunman went into an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado and shot at least 17 people, killing at least 5 of them.
In December, Biden signed a law to protect the rights of people of the same gender to get married. He did this because he was worried that the Supreme Court, which has a large conservative majority, could take away protections that had been given to LGBTQ people in the past.
Biden said at the signing ceremony:
This law and the love it defends strike a blow against hate in all its forms, and that’s why this law matters to every single American, no matter who you are and who you love.- United States President, Joe Biden