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The American Civil Liberties Union and its Minnesota chapter have filed a motion on behalf of a transgender student in Virginia, Minn. In early September, the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sued the Virginia school district, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of several students who claim their privacy was violated when the transgender student used school facilities.

In its motion filed on Wednesday, the ACLU is asking for the transgender student to have the opportunity to intervene since the case hinges on the student’s use of facilities, and that the ADF lawsuit seeks to prevent her from using school facilities in the future.

The student is referred to as Jane Doe in the motion to intervene and her mother is referred to as Sarah Doe. The lawsuit against the school filed by ADF claims that Jane engaged in inappropriate “dancing” in a locker room.

In a press release announcing the motion, Joshua Block, senior staff attorney for the ACLU said, “Providing inclusive and nondiscriminatory treatment to Jane Doe does not threaten anyone else’s privacy. The entire team talks, listens to music, and dances in the locker room as part of team camaraderie, and it is unfortunate that the plaintiffs have singled Jane Doe out from the rest of her teammates with these sensational allegations just because she is transgender.”

Indeed, as the lawsuit against the school become public in early September, anti-LGBTQ news outlets pounced on the salacious language in the suit, including Minnesota news outlet Alpha News (which has had its own problems with facts and plagiarizing).

According to the motion, that media attention has been devastating:

While Jane’s school has made efforts to educate the school community about transgender identity and transgender people, a small group of parents opposed the school’s decision to allow Jane to use the girls’ restroom and locker room facilities. When Plaintiffs filed the Complaint in this action, the private and unassuming behavior of a typical fifteen-year old girl in the privacy of a high school locker room was suddenly thrust into the public spotlight, and held up for public scrutiny. The ensuing controversy has been devastating to Jane, and has even resulted in threats being made against her.

“This lawsuit has been devastating to my daughter and our family. She just wants to live a normal life,” Sarah Doe said in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit by religious right outfit ADF is one of many the group has filed around the country seeking to roll back protections for transgender students.

Jane has requested that the court allow her to give testimony in the case.

“Jane Doe wants what all of us want, to be accepted for who she is and participate as a member of the team, just like any other girl,” said Charles Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU of Minnesota. “It is hard enough being a teenager without being de-humanized and targeted with these false and sensational allegations.”

Block added, “Schools can provide extra privacy protections or alternative changing areas for any student uncomfortable changing with the rest of the team, but no student has a right to unilaterally demand that transgender teammates be segregated from the team locker room.”

Here’s the motion:

Download (PDF, 102KB)

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