(Reuters) - An 11-year-old transgender Ohio child must be allowed to continue to use the girls’ restroom while her school district appeals a court ruling in her favor, a U.S. appeals court ruled Thursday.
The child, a biological male who identifies as female, has been using the girl’s restroom at a school in the Highland Local School District northwest of Akron since a federal court ruled in late September that district administrators could not prevent her from doing so.
The case began in June, when the school district sued to stop an order by the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama requiring schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms of their choice.
A U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District of Ohio denied the school district’s request to overturn the administration’s rule, and issued a temporary restraining order requiring the school district to comply.
The school district appealed and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit refused to grant that appeal.
In its ruling on Thursday, the court pointed out that the child had attempted suicide multiple times before being allowed to use the girls’ restroom, and that her stress level had diminished since the ruling went into effect.
Making her switch again to the boys’ restroom or to return to using the nurses’ restroom as she had before, would put the child, who was not named, at risk again, the court said.
The district has argued that it has allowed the child to use private restroom facilities and to otherwise identify as a girl at school.
An attorney for the Alliance for Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian organization that represents the school district in the case, said allowing a male child in the girls’ restroom violated the privacy of the other students.
“Allowing boys in girls’ restrooms completely disregards the privacy needs and rights of all the girls who are rightfully and understandably concerned,” said Doug Wardlow, the organization’s legal counsel. “Young boys should not be allowed in girls’ locker rooms or restrooms.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has said that next year it will consider the question of whether the Obama Administration overreached in requiring public schools to allow transgender children to use restrooms in accordance with their gender identities.
Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif.; Editing by David Gregorio