SCOTUS Declines Boyertown Case, Misses Opportunity to Protect Bodily Privacy for All Students

May 28, 2019 | 1 comment | Posted in Privacy rights | Tags:

The Independence Law Center today expressed disappointment with today’s announcement by the US Supreme Court rejecting its appeal in the personal privacy case involving students in the Boyertown Area School District. The case, Joel Doe et al. v. Boyertown Area School District, challenged the district’s unwritten policy that permits the entry into school locker rooms and restrooms by students of the opposite sex who identify otherwise.   

“The court’s denial is disappointing,” said Randall Wenger, Chief Counsel for the Independence Law Center. “The lower court’s decision does not protect the privacy of all students, which is why we believe the Supreme Court needed to review this critical case. We now urge the Court to take on a similar case in the future to bring much needed guidance to school districts, parents and students on how to handle violations of well-established bodily privacy rights.”

“I’m very disappointed,” shared Alexis Lightcap, one of the plaintiffs in the court case. “I was hopeful the Supreme Court would take up my case. My voice is the echo of so many girls who want their voices to be heard and to feel protected. I hope no other girl finds herself in a situation like mine, where I felt powerless and vulnerable in my own school. Every student’s privacy should be protected.”

“A girl’s right to privacy from members of the opposite sex does not depend on how a boy identifies his own gender, and vice versa,” expressed Jeremy Samek, Senior Counsel for Independence Law Center. “That’s why the Supreme Court needs to take on a case like this because a man’s beliefs about himself should never hold veto power over women’s bodily privacy, and vice versa.”

In November of last year, Alliance Defending Freedom and Independence Law Center attorneys representing the students and their parents asked the high court to review a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that found the students’ privacy didn’t merit protection. In this case – Joel Doe et al. v. Boyertown Area School District – students appealed the denial of a preliminary injunction against their school after it opened locker rooms and restrooms to students identifying with the opposite sex. The appeal raises the right to bodily privacy and sexual harassment under Title IX.

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Independence Law Center is a Pennsylvania-based pro-bono legal organization dedicated to advancing civil rights.

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