NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A transgender child and her parents sued the Tennessee Department of Education Thursday over a law prohibiting transgender students and staff from using school restrooms or locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Nashville by a student identified only as DH. The complaint states that DH was assigned male at birth but identifies as female. DH, who is now 8, started living as a girl when she was 6, according to the lawsuit.
The school initially agreed to support DH’s social transition, but in January this year “the administration was unable to provide DH with the support it needed to complete its social transition,” according to the report. complaint. That’s because Tennessee law prevents her from using the girls’ bathroom at school.
The school accommodates DH by allowing him to use one of four single-occupancy restrooms, which “reinforces the differential treatment” of DH, 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, according to the lawsuit.
The situation was so stressful for DH that at one point she completely stopped using the toilet at school and began limiting her food and water intake to minimize her need to go to the bathroom, according to the trial. The child developed “developed migraines, reflux, and recurring nightmares at school,” the lawsuit says.
“Years ago, I chose to move to Tennessee because it was known as the ‘willing state,’ whose citizens cared for their neighbors without hesitation — not a state that legalized discrimination against helpless children,” DH’s mother, identified as AH, said in a press release announcing the trial.
Under Tennessee’s restroom law, a student, parent, or employee can sue for damages “for all psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered” if school officials allow a person transgender to enter a bathroom or locker room that does not match their birth-assigned sex when others are present. They can also take legal action if they are required to stay in the same dormitory with someone assigned the opposite sex at birth who is not a family member.
Lawsuit filed Thursday is second challenging Tennessee’s All Children’s Homes Act. A previous lawsuit was dropped after the child plaintiffs left the state.
The Tennessee attorney general’s office declined to comment on the retrial. In court filings on the previous lawsuit, the bureau argued that the law does not violate the Equal Protection Act because the law does not apply to transgender people, among other reasons. They also argued that it did not violate Title IX because “Congress enacted Title IX’s prohibition of ‘sex’ discrimination at a time when ‘sex’ unmistakably meant biological sex.” »
The June 2021 U.S. Department of Education guidelines said discrimination based on a student’s gender identity would be treated as a Title IX violation. However, last month a federal judge in Tennessee temporarily banned the app. of this interpretation. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Charles Atchley Jr. sided with Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery and 19 other state attorneys general who said the Biden administration’s guidelines violated their law. State to enact laws. which, for example, prevent students from participating in sports because of their gender identity or require schools and businesses to provide bathrooms and showers to accommodate transgender people.
The Tennessee School Restroom Act was one of several accommodations targeting transgender people that were signed into law last year by Governor Bill Lee. They include a first-of-its-kind law that requires businesses and government facilities to post signs if they allow transgender people to use public restrooms for multiple people. who do not match their sex assigned at birth. A federal judge struck down that law earlier this year.