Trans Child, Parents Sue Over Tennessee School Bathroom Law

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Posted: Aug 05, 2022 11:15 AM
Trans Child, Parents Sue Over Tennessee School Bathroom Law

Source: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

A transgender child, along with their parents, sued the Tennessee Department of Education this week over a law that prohibits transgender students and staff from using school bathrooms aligning with their gender identity rather than their biological sex.

The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Nashville by a student identified as “D.H,” according to the Associated Press. The complaint states that D.H. was “assigned” male at birth but identifies as a female. D.H. began “living as a girl” at age 6 and is now 8 years old.

The school initially agreed to support D.H.’s social transition but by January of this year, the “administration could not provide D.H. with the support she needed to complete her social transition,” according to the complaint. That’s because Tennessee law prevents her from using the girls bathroom at school.

The school accommodates D.H. by letting her use one of four single-occupancy restrooms, which “reinforce the differential treatment” of D.H., according to the lawsuit. This violates her Constitutional rights under the Equal Protection Clause and also violates Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, the lawsuit claims.

The situation was so stressful for D.H. that at one point she stopped using the restroom at school entirely and began limiting her food and water intake to minimize her need for the restroom, according to the lawsuit. The child has developed “developed migraines, reflux, and recurring nightmares of school,” the lawsuit states.

In a press release from the Human Rights Campaign, D.H.’s mother said that Tennessee “legalizes discrimination against helpless children” with its bathroom law.

“Years ago, I chose to move to Tennessee because it was known as ‘the volunteer state,’ whose citizens cared for their neighbors without hesitation—not a state that legalizes discrimination against helpless children,” said A.H., mother of D.H. “Now, I am embarrassed to say that I live in a state that refuses to see anything beyond my child's gender. She is a bright, friendly, funny, creative, enthusiastic, little girl and is always the first kid to cheer you on if you are struggling. By filing this lawsuit, I am showing my volunteer spirit—because I’m fighting to not only affirm my child's existence, but also the thousands of transgender and nonbinary children who live in Tennessee.”

AP noted that this is the second lawsuit challenging the law. The previous lawsuit was dropped after the child plaintiffs moved out of the state. 

In May, Townhall covered how a federal judge struck down a separate piece of legislation in Tennessee that required businesses to post notices on their public restrooms if they allow transgender patrons to use the facilities that do not align with their biological sex. The ACLU challenged the law on behalf of two businesses in the state, one in Nashville and one in Chattanooga.

Earlier this year, Matt covered how biological male transgender swimmer Will “Lia” Thomas competed on the women’s swim team at University of Pennsylvania after competing on the men’s team in previous seasons. In an interview with Daily Mail, one of Thomas’ female teammates said that Thomas used the women’s locker room.

“It’s [the locker room] definitely awkward because Lia still has male body parts and is still attracted to women,” the swimmer told Daily Mail. She added that the swimmers raised concerns over the situation to their coaches.

“Multiple swimmers have raised it, multiple different times,” she said. “But we were basically told that we could not ostracize Lia by not having her in the locker room and that there’s nothing we can do about it, that we basically have to roll over and accept it, or we cannot use our own locker room.”