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Indiana judge sides with transgender student over restroom

By Jessie Higgins

EVANSVILLE, Ind., Aug. 8 (UPI) -- As fall classes began Wednesday in Indiana, a transgender student will be able to use the boys restroom under a court order.

In a preliminary injunction issued Friday, U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence said that the student was likely to suffer "negative emotional consequences of being denied access to the boys' restrooms at school."

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The ruling applies only to the student who filed the lawsuit and does not force the district to change its practice of forcing students to use the restroom for the gender designated on their birth certificates. The case is still pending.

The student sued the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. in February after he was repeatedly denied access to the schools' male restrooms. He is represented by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union.

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The student, identified by the initials J.A.R., is a transgender male. He was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and is taking hormones, according to the lawsuit.

Superintendent David Smith testified that the district would not allow J.A.R. to use the male restrooms, calling it a "substantial disruption" if "children were allowed to simply choose bathrooms based on their subjective gender identity."

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He also said "the parent body would object," according to the injunction.

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"Today's decision affirms that denying a student his right to use the correct restroom is discrimination, plain and simple," Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director, said in a statement. "This is consistent with the great wealth of authority and many Indiana school corporations follow the law in this regard. I would hope that with this decision those Indiana school corporations that continue to have discriminatory policies in place will take heed and change them without the need for litigation."

The Indiana case comes as similar suits are being litigated across the nation. In May, a judge sided with a transgender teen who sued his Virginia school district for restroom access. And in May 2017, another transgender teen from Virginia won a similar case against a local school district.

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