Students, parents ask appeals court to stop Pa. school district from violating bodily privacy
EASTON, Pa. – Students and parents who filed a bodily privacy lawsuit against the Boyertown Area School District have appealed a federal district court decision that allows the school district to continue violating the privacy rights of students while their lawsuit proceeds. Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom and the Independence Law Center filed the notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit on Monday.
During the 2016-17 school year—without informing parents or students—the school district secretly opened its high school locker rooms and restrooms to students of the opposite sex, which violated many students’ bodily privacy rights. One male student involuntarily encountered an undressed female student while changing in the boys’ locker room. Three other students later joined the suit.
“School officials have a duty to protect the privacy and dignity of all students,” said ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Because the Boyertown District has failed to fulfill its responsibility, we are asking the appellate court to protect their rights while the lawsuit proceeds. This is important not only for our clients, but for all students within the Boyertown Area School District.”
“Many students and parents are rightfully concerned that the district’s new policy permits a student to unilaterally violate the privacy rights of other students based simply on that student’s beliefs about gender,” added Independence Law Center Legal Counsel Jeremy Samek, who argued before the court on Aug. 11. “A person’s privacy rights are theirs and theirs alone. Beliefs about gender shouldn’t be a license to violate privacy inside boys’ or girls’ locker rooms and restrooms. That defeats the very purpose of sex-separated facilities.”
The lawsuit, Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, claims violation of the fundamental right to bodily privacy under the U.S. Constitution; sexual harassment under Title IX, a federal law; and violation of a state privacy law.
Independence Law Center is a Pennsylvania-based pro-bono legal organization dedicated to advancing civil rights.
- Pronunciation guide: Samek (SAM’-eck)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
# # # | Ref. 58757