A federal judge has struck down as unlawful a Maryland high school’s policy preventing a transgender student from using the boy’s locker room.
In a 40-page decision, U.S. District Judge George Russell III ruled that St. Michaels Middle High School’s policy blocking transgender teen Max Brennan from using the boy’s locker room unlawfully singles him out and “harms his health and well-being,” The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
He stopped short Tuesday of issuing a preliminary injunction in favor of Brennan, 15, but ruled that the policy “does not withstand” heightened scrutiny and amounts to unlawful sex-stereotyping.
The teen had been required to use to a separate gender-neutral bathroom at his school to get ready for his gym class, which caused him at times to either be late or be disciplined for not changing for the class.
Russell wrote in his opinion Monday that forcing Brennan to use a separate facility and not the locker room aligned with his gender identity is unlawful “because it does not apply to anyone else at the high school, and marks him as different for being transgender.”
“Because defendants contend that they may bar [Brennan] from the boys’ locker room completely — despite the presence of single-use restrooms or stalls — by implication, defendants are arguing that the presence of [Brennan] in the boys’ locker room — itself — is what infringes on the privacy rights of other boys,” Russell writes. “Defendants do not provide any explanation for why completely barring [Brennan] from the boys’ locker room protects the privacy of other boys changing there, while the availability of single-use restrooms or locker room stalls does not. Nor does the Court find any.”
Brennan celebrated Russell’s ruling in a statement to the Post.
“I am hopeful that this case will not only help change policy for the better, but help the students who are bound to come after me,” Brennan said.