CASEDoe v. Boyertown Area School District

Client Story
Alexis Lightcap

 

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 girls' 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. 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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Summary
During the 2016-17 school year—without informing parents or students—the Boyertown Area School District secretly opened its high school locker rooms, showers, and restrooms to students of the opposite sex, which violated many students’ bodily privacy rights. Some of the students in the suit involuntarily encountered students of the opposite sex in various states of undress in school restrooms and locker rooms.
News Releases

Pennsylvania students appeal decision that allows violation of their bodily privacy

Religious Freedom

Pennsylvania students appeal decision that allows violation of their bodily privacy

ADF, allied attorneys ask full 3rd Circuit to take case challenging Boyertown Area School District policy

Jul 02, 2018 Read More

Students, parents may appeal 3rd Circuit student privacy decision

Religious Freedom

Students, parents may appeal 3rd Circuit student privacy decision

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb regarding Thursday’s ruling against student privacy by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Doe v. Boyertown Area School District.

May 24, 2018 Read More

Pa. student to come forward: ‘Please stop my school from violating my privacy’

Religious Freedom

Pa. student to come forward: ‘Please stop my school from violating my privacy’

Press conference following 3rd Circuit hearing in case that challenges Boyertown District policy

May 24, 2018 Read More

Students, parents ask appeals court to stop Pa. school district from violating bodily privacy

Religious Freedom

Students, parents ask appeals court to stop Pa. school district from violating bodily privacy

ADF, allied attorneys ask 3rd Circuit to weigh in on district court ruling

Sep 25, 2017 Read More

Court allows Pennsylvania school district to continue violating student privacy

Religious Freedom

Court allows Pennsylvania school district to continue violating student privacy

A federal court’s decision Friday allows a Pennsylvania school district to continue violating the bodily privacy rights of students while their lawsuit, Doe v. Boyertown Area School District proceeds. 

Aug 25, 2017 Read More

Students, parents ask court to stop Pa. school district from violating bodily privacy

Religious Freedom

Students, parents ask court to stop Pa. school district from violating bodily privacy

ADF, allied attorneys available to media following hearing Friday

Aug 10, 2017 Read More

Three students join bodily privacy suit against Pennsylvania school district

Religious Freedom

Three students join bodily privacy suit against Pennsylvania school district

ADF attorneys, allied attorneys file amended complaint in federal court

Apr 18, 2017 Read More

Student sues Pennsylvania school district for sexual harassment, violation of personal privacy

Religious Freedom

Student sues Pennsylvania school district for sexual harassment, violation of personal privacy

Principal tells student to ‘tolerate’ undressing with student of opposite sex, make it as ‘natural’ as possible

Mar 21, 2017 Read More
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Documents
https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/doe-v.-boyertown-area-school-district/doe-v-boyertown-area-school-district---revised-3rd-circuit-panel-opinion.pdf?sfvrsn=95340ed6_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/doe-v.-boyertown-area-school-district/doe-v-boyertown-area-school-district---order-granting-panel-rehearing-and-denying-rehearing-en-banc-(with-dissent).pdf?sfvrsn=62c5c3b3_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/doe-v.-boyertown-area-school-district/doe-boyertown-enbanc-appeal-notice-7-2-18.pdf?sfvrsn=a541a347_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/doe-v.-boyertown-area-school-district/doe-v-boyertown-area-school-district---3rd-circuit-opinion.pdf?sfvrsn=4b5997cd_6https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/doe-v.-boyertown-area-school-district/doe-v-boyertown-area-school-district---opening-brief-filed-with-3rd-circuit.pdf?sfvrsn=9bba8191_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/doe-v.-boyertown-area-school-district/doe-v-boyertown-area-school-district---notice-of-appeal.pdf?sfvrsn=d17132c0_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/doe-v.-boyertown-area-school-district/doe-v-boyertown-area-school-district---preliminary-injunction-decision.pdf?sfvrsn=8f38e357_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/doe-v.-boyertown-area-school-district/doe-v-boyertown-area-school-district---motion-for-and-brief-in-support-of-preliminary-injunction.pdf?sfvrsn=eee181e1_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/doe-v.-boyertown-area-school-district/doe-v-boyertown-area-school-district---amended-complaint.pdf?sfvrsn=4fe5ea_4https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/doe-v.-boyertown-area-school-district/doe-v-boyertown-area-school-district---complaint.pdf?sfvrsn=b479f040_4
Court Title Date
Appellate Court
Revised 3rd Circuit panel opinion Jul 26 2018
Appellate Court
Order granting panel rehearing and denying rehearing en banc (with dissent) Jul 26 2018
Appellate Court
Petition for rehearing en banc Jul 02 2018
Appellate Court
Vacated 3rd Circuit panel opinion Jun 18 2018
Appellate Court
Opening brief filed with 3rd Circuit Nov 10 2017
Trial Court
Notice of appeal Sep 25 2017
Trial Court
Preliminary injunction decision Aug 25 2017
Trial Court
Motion for and brief in support of preliminary injunction May 17 2017
Trial Court
Amended complaint Apr 18 2017
Trial Court
Complaint Mar 21 2017

Commentary

Resources

Watch: Meet Alexis Lightcap:

 


Alexis Lightcap: Girls and boys shouldn't do everything together (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2018-05-24)

Kellie Fiedorek: Dignity and fairness matter for every child in the locker room (Daily Signal, 2017-04-14)

Bio: Randall Wenger and Jeremy Samek

Biographies

Media Documents