PLATTE COUNTY, Mo. — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri has filed a lawsuit against the Platte County School District for denying a transgender student access to school bathrooms that match her gender identity.
The lawsuit names the district and school board members Doug Doll, Shawn Chiddix, Sharon Sherwood, Karen Bryant, Mike Matousek, Amy MacCuish and Tyler Fadler as defendants.
The lawsuit claims a 16-year-old transgender student, identified as R.F. ,was punished with suspension for using the girls restroom at Platte County High School (PCHS) in 2021.
“Forcing transgender students to use the bathroom or locker room that matches their sex designated at birth is not only discrimination but dangerous and causes serious harm to Missouri’s youth,” Gillian Wilcox, Deputy Director of Litigation at the ACLU of Missouri, said in a press release.
“Both through the constitution and by statute the government, a school in this case, is prohibited from discriminating against the people it is supposed to protect on the basis of either their sex or disability.”
According to the lawsuit, R.F. began her medical transition to female in early 2019, prior to attending PCHS.
In the fall of 2021, when R.F. was a freshman, she was told by the assistant principal of PCHS to use either the restroom that correlated with the sex she was assigned at birth (the boys restroom) or the single gender-neutral restroom at the school.
The lawsuit also claims another PCHS employee told her that using the restroom that matched her gender was illegal, despite not citing a specific law.
According to the lawsuit, PCHS’s only gender-neutral restroom was not close to R.F.’s classes and it frequently had a long line, because it was used by all students.
“R.F. was forced to choose between using an impractical single-stall restroom and risk missing or being late to class as well as being singled out from her classmates for using that restroom, using the boys’ restroom even though she is a transgender female, or using the girls’ restroom and risk punishment,” the lawsuit states.
R.F. began using the girls restroom at the start of the 2021-2022 school year and received her first verbal warning from staff in November.
On Dec. 9, she was given one day of in-school suspension as a punishment for using the girls restroom. On Jan. 5, 2022, she received two days of out-of-school suspension for using the girls restroom.
The lawsuit alleges when R.F. returned from out-of-school suspension and attempted to use the boys restroom, she experienced harassment and the threat of rape from a male classmate.
R.F. missed approximately three weeks of school after the alleged threat before the school approved a virtual learning option for her.
The lawsuit alleges the district discriminated based on disability status, claiming R.F. is a member of a protected class, because she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
The lawsuit also claims by denying the teen access to the girls restroom, the district discriminated against R.F. based on her sex, violating the Missouri Human Rights Act.
FOX4 reached out to the school district Tuesday, which shared the following response:
“The Platte County School District was just made aware of a lawsuit filed yesterday afternoon by the ACLU. The District is in the early stages of evaluating the legal claims. The District’s focus is, and has always been, providing a safe and caring environment for all students. We plan to provide additional information soon.”Dr. Jay Harris, Superintendent
This lawsuit comes roughly a week after the ACLU of Missouri filed a separate lawsuit to block a new Missouri law banning gender-affirming healthcare for minors from taking effect later this month.