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Constitutional Rights & the Public’s Health

Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County, Florida

Overview

Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County, Florida (U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Cir., Dec. 20, 2022): Adams, a transgender student, alleged that a school policy separating bathrooms based on biological sex violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and Title IX. The Eleventh Circuit disagreed, finding the policy constitutional because it advanced the important governmental objective of protecting students’ privacy and was substantially related to achieving that objective. The court found that the policy did not unconstitutionally discriminate against transgender students because the discrimination was based on biological sex, not gender identity. Finally, the court determined that the bathroom policy did not violate Title IX because “sex” as used in the statute is unambiguous. The court concluded that an ambiguous interpretation (i.e., as including gender identity) would render the “statutory carve-out for ‘maintaining separate living facilities for the different sexes’” meaningless. Read the full decision here.

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