Transgender student’s lawsuit against Blue Springs schools goes to Missouri Supreme Court

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday about a Blue Springs South student’s right to use the boy’s bathroom.

His attorneys argue the Blue Springs School District and the Blue Springs Board of Education violated his rights and the Missouri Human Rights Act by making him use separate facilities.

R.J. Appleberry is a senior at Blue Springs South. He transitioned from female to male when he was nine years old.

Judges heard oral arguments about whether it was sex discrimination when the Blue Springs Board of Education and school district didn’t let him use the boy's bathroom and locker room.

"My freshman year I just didn't go to the bathroom," Appleberry said. "I can count on one hand, three times I went pee at school the whole year."

R.J. Appleberry

Appleberry said in eighth grade, he played football but was only allowed in the locker room after a certain time.

"I tried to go in early, and they kicked me out of the locker room and yelled at me, and they said, 'No you can't come in here until after 3:20," Appleberry said.

That set off a series of legal battles. Attorneys for the school board and district argued it was not sex discrimination because of the way current public accommodation laws are written.

Appleberry’s attorney argues otherwise.

"Because of the nature of what kind of a boy he is, the district is excluding him from the facilities they allow other boys to use, and that's discriminatory," Alexander Edelman said.

Appleberry is graduating this spring and won’t walk through the halls of Blue Springs South much longer. He uses whichever bathroom is closest to his classes -- whether it’s boys or unisex.

"They can come in and take me out if they want to," Appleberry said.

Appleberry said taking his situation all the way to the Missouri Supreme Court is just as much for him as it is the equality for the incoming classes.

"I'm hoping that my school district will follow suit (of other districts) and say yes, if you are transgender you can use what bathroom you feel like you belong in," Appleberry said.

When FOX4 asked a Blue Springs District spokesperson for comment, we were told the district does not comment on pending litigation.