Statewide LGBTQ Youth Organization Condemns Anti-Transgender Discrimination by Public School District

GIBSONIA, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Youth Congress fully supports the federal lawsuit filed today by three transgender students in the Pine-Richland School District. After months of lengthy school board meetings discussing the exclusion of transgender students from school facilities, on September 12, 2016, the suburban Pittsburgh school board voted 5-4 on a resolution directing its administration to bar transgender students from accessing school bathrooms and facilities consistent with their gender identity. In response, the students have filed a federal lawsuit contending discrimination under Title IX and violation of equal protection. Previously, the district administration had been supporting the inclusion and respect of transgender students, until reversed by the school board. Lambda Legal is providing the Pine-Richland High School student plaintiffs with legal counsel.

This is the first known federal lawsuit filed against a Pennsylvania school district under Title IX and the Equal Protection clause of the US Constitution to secure equal access to school facilities by transgender students.

Pennsylvania Youth Congress Executive Director Jason Landau Goodman said, “We are proud to stand with Elissa, Juliet, and A.S., as they file this historic federal lawsuit. Equal protection is the law of the land, and must be guaranteed in our public schools. We will not rest until all transgender students in Pine-Richland and throughout the commonwealth are provided equal access and opportunity in their schools.”

Along with Lambda Legal and THRIVE of Southwest PA, the Pennsylvania Youth Congress has been on the ground in the district supporting the transgender student plaintiffs and their families since the first school board meetings on these issues in early spring 2016.

Over a dozen Pennsylvania school districts have adopted trans-affirming policies and regulations this year. A listing of districts with formal policies is on the Pennsylvania Youth Congress Dignity for All website. These districts include Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Several other school districts have officially discussed passing anti-transgender policies, similar to the resolution adopted by the Pine-Richland School Board. The school boards of the Weatherly School District, in Carbon County, and Northern Lebanon County School District have discussed the passage of such policies at their recent meetings.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has not released any specific guidance to school districts on supporting transgender students. The state agency have been encouraging compliance with the US Department of Education and US Department of Justice guidance on affirming transgender students released on May 13, 2016. PDE has sent letters to both the Pine Richland School District and Weatherly School District in concern for their actions. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association has not released any formal guidance to districts in Pennsylvania.

Information on supporting transgender students in public school districts, as well as a model Pennsylvania policy for districts to consider for adoption, is available online at the Pennsylvania Youth Congress Dignity for All website.

Lamba Legal has posted a copy of the lawsuit on their website.


Category: Press Statements