The U.S. Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will not consider a challenge brought by a conservative legal organization to a Boyertown Area School District policy allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity.

In so doing, the justices rejected the latest iteration of an argument from students at the school who argued that the policy infringed on their rights to privacy.

The decision on Tuesday affirmed an earlier ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which in an unusual move last year issued its decision upholding the policy less than 20 minutes after the hearing at which they heard complaints from the protesting students.

Circuit Judge Theodore McKee said at the time that the students had failed to show that they were irreparably harmed by the school district’s policy of allowing transgender teens to use the bathroom facilities where they felt most comfortable. Ruling from the bench, he focused on the factors that make the situation in Boyertown, a campus of about 1,650 students in Berks County, unique.

The Boyertown district implemented its transgender bathroom policy in 2016 under Obama-era guidelines that required all federally funded schools to recognize basic transgender student rights. At the same time, district officials expanded the number of single-user bathrooms, alternative locker rooms and private stalls across their high school’s campus so that any student made uncomfortable by the change could use them instead.

Still, the school district’s policies roiled the campus and quickly attracted the attention of conservative Christian advocacy law firm, Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the students who served as plaintiffs in the legal challenge.

But their argument that the solution was to overturn the policy and return to the status quo seemed to hold little sway with the Third Circuit’s judges last year.

“You could have come in here during Brown v. Board of Education and said, ‘Let’s go back to the status quo,’” Circuit Judge Theodore McKee told the Alliance Defending Freedom lawyers at the May 2018 hearing, referring to the landmark Supreme Court decision that struck down racial segregation policies in public schools. “These types of cases wouldn’t happen if the answer was always, ‘Go back to the status quo.’”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.



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