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Oregon Judge Ruling Allows Transgender Students To Use Their Preferred Bathrooms

In the absence of a federal policy mandating transgender rights, local federal circuit judges have taken up the mantle.

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Last week, a federal judge in Oregon ruled in support of transgender students rights when he handed down a 56-page ruling saying that transgender students in the state of Oregon must be allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. The ruling upheld a specific school district policy in Dallas, Oregon, in which a male transgender student was allowed to use boys’ restrooms, locker rooms and showers.

Parents and students of that district who disagreed with the policy claimed that the policy made students who were not transgender uncomfortable, humiliated, and anxious because they would be in the bathroom with students of the “opposite sex.” But these complaints were dismissed, as Marco A. Hernandez, the judge ruling over the case argued that disallowing transgender students from using the bathrooms and spaces that correspond to their gender identity would infringe upon their right to equal educational opportunities and resources.

After the Supreme Court declined to hear a federal case on transgender students rights in 2017, the majority of the fights for equal rights have taken place in lower courts like this one. This is especially true after the Trump administration began to roll back federal protections for students, instead relying on the individual school districts and states to shape policy appropriate for their schools. In the absence of a federal mandate or clear-cut policy by the Department of Education, there have been many state-level rulings regarding transgender students rights.

Last year, an Illinois federal court ruled against a group of parents who wanted to bar their district from allowing transgender students from using bathrooms, etc, that corresponded with their gender identity. A Pennsylvania school district that had a similar policy to that of Oregon’s also was backed by the court.