The lawsuit claims that Oklahoma’s recently-passed law restricting transgender students from using bathrooms that do no match their biological sex is a discriminatory violation of Title IX protections.
The American Civil Liberties Union and LGBTQ advocacy organization Lambda Legal have filed a lawsuit challenging a recently-passed Oklahoma law that would require students at some schools to only use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificate.
According to CNN, the lawsuit was filed by the A.C.L.U., the A.C.L.U. of Oklahoma, and Lambda Legal on behalf of three transgender students. In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege that the law—which took effect earlier this year—violates the students’ constitutional rights as well as Title IX, a federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination at publicly funded schools.
“S.B. 615 deprives Plaintiffs and students who are transgender like them of their rights to equal dignity, liberty, and autonomy by branding them as second-class citizens,” the lawsuit asserts. “Defendants thus have denied and continue to deny Plaintiffs equal protection of the laws in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
CNN reports that S.B. 615 applies to students at public and public charter schools across the state.
Transgender students who decline to use the “correct” restrooms would have to use a “single-occupancy restroom or changing room” provided by their school.
School districts that fail to comply with S.B. 615, writes CNN, could have their state-provided funding cut and face civil litigation from local parents.
The lawsuit names as defendants the Oklahoma State Department of Education, state Attorney General John O’Connor, and four individual school districts, among others.
Proponents of the legislation have argued that S.B. 615 is necessary to protect the safety and privacy of cisgender students.
“Nothing can be more reasonable than insisting that a child be allowed to use bathroom facilities or change clothes without the threat of intrusion by a person of the opposite sex,” Attorney General O’Connor said in a statement earlier this year.
However, the plaintiffs claim that S.B. 615 only serves to stigmatize and isolate transgender youth.
“When excluded from the multiple occupancy restrooms, students who are transgender often avoid using the restroom entirely. This may be because using single-occupancy restrooms would reveal that they are transgender to others, is stigmatizing, or is impractical to use given how far the single occupancy restroom may be from a student’s classes or for other reasons,” the lawsuit states.
“Treating boys and girls who are transgender differently than their peers and excluding them from the same restrooms used by peers of the same gender also increases their risk of or worsens, their anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and self-harm; could lead to suicide; and interferes with the treatment of, and may cause or increase the intensity of, their gender dysphoria,” the complaint says.