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Proposed Va. school policy violates children’s privacy, invites lawsuits

ADF letter encourages district to maintain distinct facilities for boys, girls
Published On: 10/18/2017

FAIRFAX, Va. – Alliance Defending Freedom sent Fairfax County Public Schools a letter Wednesday that explains the problems with a proposed policy that would eliminate the longstanding and common-sense policy of designating restroom facilities for use by one sex, thus allowing students to use restrooms and changing areas reserved for the opposite sex.


Instead, ADF is offering a model policy that addresses the concerns which prompted the proposal, slated for a vote Thursday, but does not allow both sexes to use the same restrooms and locker rooms – a recipe for potential legal liability when it comes to children’s privacy and safety.


“Schools have a duty to protect the privacy, safety, and dignity of all students,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “Certain advocacy organizations are ignoring this duty and pressuring schools to tear down the long-standing tradition of having distinct facilities for boys and girls at school. Schools should reject this radical social experiment, which impacts the most vulnerable members of our society, is not required by any federal law, and lacks common sense.


The ADF letter explains that, contrary to what some mistakenly believe, no federal law requires public schools to allow boys into girls’ restrooms or girls into boys’ restrooms. In fact, state authorities could be exposing themselves to legal liability for violating students’ privacy rights and placing children in potentially unsafe conditions.


“No court has ever interpreted Title IX as requiring schools to give students access to opposite-sex restrooms and changing areas,” the letter explains. “Rather, courts have consistently found that schools do not discriminate under Title IX when they limit use of sex-specific restrooms to members of the specified biological sex…. Students have the fundamental right to bodily privacy and that right is clearly violated when students – much less kindergarteners as young as five years old – are forced into situations where members of the opposite sex may view their partially or fully unclothed bodies.”


“Schools can accommodate a small number of students that have different needs without compromising the rights of other children and their parents,” added ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “No child should be forced into an intimate setting – like a bathroom or a locker room – with a child of the opposite sex. Our model policy provides a solution without exposing schools to liability and without exposing children to threats to their privacy and safety.”


  • Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’-koh)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.



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