BLOGPressing Pause on the Government’s War Against Privacy

By Matt Sharp Posted on: | October 28, 2016

Gloucester County, Virginia is probably best known as the home of Pocahontas, who saved the life of Captain John Smith and later married John Rolfe, bringing about a peace in the war between the Jamestown colonists and the surrounding Native American tribes.

Once again, Gloucester has become the site of a (temporary) peace—this time in a war that the U.S. government has been waging against school districts and students over access to locker rooms and restrooms by members of the opposite sex.

In December 2014, the Gloucester County School Board made what should have been an uncontroversial decision. In response to a request by G.G. (a female student who asserts that she is male) to use the boy’s restrooms, the Board adopted a policy stating that the girls and boys restrooms can only be used by students of the designated sex. The Board concurrently made several single-stall, unisex restrooms available for anyone, including G.G., who was uncomfortable using the communal facilities.

But G.G., who is represented by the ACLU, would not accept this solution and in June 2015 sued the school district claiming that under Title IX—a 40-year-old law intended to assure women of equal access to educational opportunities provided to men by a school or college—the school district must allow G.G. to use the boys’ restroom.

G.G.’s lawsuit received support from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, who had quietly been pushing the idea that schools must treat a student consistent with his or her chosen gender identity. According to the government, if a boy asserts he is a girl, then a school must treat him like a girl for all purposes—including the right to use the girl’s locker rooms, showers, restrooms, and even overnight accommodation on school trips.

The school board realized that complying with the demands of G.G. and the U.S. government would violate the constitutional privacy rights of its other students, to whom the board also owed a duty. So the board took a stand against the ACLU and the U.S. Government.

Although the school board won in lower court, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision and found that the school board must yield to the U.S. government’s radical new position that sex is determined by a person’s self-perceived gender

Now, the Supreme Court has decided to accept the case, and the implications of its ruling will likely be historic and impact millions of school kids across the country.

ADF played a role in making that happen by submitting a friend-of-the-court brief signed by over 8,900 students, parents, grandparents, and community members encouraging the Court to protect student privacy.

We can expect that the ACLU, Lambda Legal, and other opponents of student privacy will be out in force, accusing those of us who believe our children’s privacy and safety should come first of bigotry against men who think they are women.

But we must not remain silent in the face of hostility. If we lose these rights in our public schools, then it is simply a matter of time before we face these same battles at private schools and even churches.


School Districts Have a Duty to Protect the Privacy and Safety of Their Students

To follow this case and learn more about how you can protect privacy at your children’s or grandchildren’s school, visit www.safebathrooms.org.

Matt Sharp

Senior Counsel

Matt Sharp serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he directs the Center for Legislative Advocacy.

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