Transgender students sue school district for bathrooms

“We are prisoners, and we are paving the way,” said Ridenour

Three transgender seniors at a Pittsburgh-area high school have sued the district for changing its rules about which restrooms they must use
Three transgender seniors at a Pittsburgh-area high school have sued the district for changing its rules about which restrooms they must use

PITTSBURGH, Penn. (WPXI) – Three transgender seniors at a Pittsburgh-area high school have sued the district for changing its rules about which restrooms they must use.

The Pine-Richland School District isn’t commenting on the federal lawsuit filed Thursday. It grew out of a school board resolution passed last month that makes students use restrooms that “correspond to their biological sex or unisex facilities.”

Previously, the district had allowed transgender students to use the restroom corresponding to their “gender identity.”

“These last three weeks have felt like three years because we feel so trapped and so discriminated against,” said Juliet Evanko, one of the plaintiffs.

Evanko and Elissa Ridenour, both 18, were born male but identify as female. One 17-year-old student was born female and identifies as male.

“We are prisoners, and we are paving the way,” said Ridenour.

The lawsuit contends they were “designated” male or female based on their physical appearance alone at birth and are being discriminated against and marginalized by the new policy, which their federal lawsuit seeks to reverse.

When Pine Richland School District was contacted, they chose not to comment.

School board member Peter Lyons released a statement that reads:

“I cannot speak for the board of directors as a whole, but only for myself, in my role as an individual director.

It is unfortunate that five members of our board chose to change a practice of the district that had been in place without controversy for some years.  This change was not representative of the respect and support the Pine-Richland community extends to all of our students, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Unfortunately, the decision of those board members has now also embroiled the district in litigation that is likely to succeed, places our federal funding at risk, and will become a costly and unnecessary distraction from our mission to focus on student learning.”

In addition to boys and girls bathrooms, the Pine Richland School District also has 10 unisex bathrooms.

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