Definitive Answer On Transgender Students And School Bathrooms Must Wait

Mar 6, 2017

There won't be a legal resolution to the debate on transgender students and school bathrooms anytime soon. The U.S. Supreme Court handed the case involving a transgender teen in Virginia back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Monday.

"I don't think until it gets to the highest court in our land, will we ever have the definitive answer," says Pamela Smith who works with transgender students at Time Out Youth in Charlotte. She's also the mother of a transgender 24-year-old.

The U.S. Supreme Court may still weigh in, but not until the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the case again.

Smith hoped the Supreme Court would resolve the issue sooner. She says transgender students she works with have gone through a range of emotions over the past year with HB2 and the Obama administration's Title IX directive. First, Charlotte City Council approved a non-discrimination ordinance early last year. 

"They felt like they were validated for once. Someone had their back. Someone stood up for them. And, then, when the Obama administration stepped forward and they said they had their back, that gave them even more validity," says Smith. "Now, that's all been jerked away from them. They just feel like they have no voice."

The high court action follows the Trump administration's recent decision to withdraw an Obama administration directive that told schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom that matches their gender identity.

That didn't change how public schools in North Carolina treat transgender students, just cement current practice in place. CMS, like other North Carolina school districts, works with these students and their families to find other solutions when it comes to bathrooms, like allowing them to use a private restroom.