Lambda Legal Commends Pennsylvania School District for Rejecting Discriminatory Policy

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November 19, 2015

The Northwestern Lehigh school board in New Tripoli, PA announced that it would continue its current practice to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and single-sex facilities that match their gender identity. The Board explicitly rejected efforts by the anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to implement policies that would discriminate against transgender students.  

For more information, see: Know Your Rights: Bathrooms and Locker Rooms

For over a year, the district had been following inclusive practices regarding bathroom access by transgender students until ADF petitioned the school board to adopt a discriminatory policy.  As a result, Lambda Legal, which is representing a young transgender student attending a school in the district, urged the school board to continue its current practice of respecting the gender identity of its students and in line with federal and state law, as well as to adopt inclusive policies that respect the gender identity and expression of its students. In support, community members and concerned parents asked the school board to affirm the school district’s current practice respecting the gender identity of its students and to reject ADF’s discriminatory efforts.

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal, said:

The Northwestern Lehigh School District was already doing right by its students and creating a safe and affirming environment for all. We commend the Northwestern Lehigh school board members, administrators, and staff for choosing to embrace diversity and protect the rights of all the students they serve, regardless of each student’s gender identity. Anything else would have been unlawful. Their decision demonstrates that our communities value and embrace diversity and that our schools ought to be committed to providing safe and affirming environments where all our children will thrive.

The anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom has instituted a campaign  to peddle misinformation, promote discrimination and stir up controversy where there is none. But across the country, schools and school districts are adopting respectful nondiscriminatory policies and practices for their transgender students. Instead of turmoil, administrators, teachers, and coaches have witnessed thriving, active and engaged students. By choosing to reject ADF’s discriminatory efforts, the Northwestern Lehigh School District protects the privacy concerns of all students. We urge it to continue to respect the gender identity of each student and adopt inclusive, nondiscriminatory policies.

Since 2014, ADF has waged similar transphobic campaigns in several school districts across the country. In Ohio, Missouri, and more recently, in Illinois and New York, the group has attempted to impose its discriminatory views and “model policy” onto communities determined to respect all students. Lambda Legal, alongside the communities in these districts, has stood up against such discriminatory and misguided attempts. The Northwestern Lehigh School District serves over 2,000 students in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.