ADF recommends policy to protect student privacy in restrooms, locker rooms

Model policy provides solution for public schools
Friday, December 05, 2014

Attorney sound bites:  Jeremy Tedesco  |  Kevin Theriot 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Alliance Defending Freedom sent an email Thursday to public school districts nationwide to advise them of a recommended policy and letter that protects the physical safety and privacy of students in restrooms and locker rooms while providing a solution for school officials concerned about students struggling with their sexual identity. ADF also sent a special letter to Gloucester County Public Schools in Virginia because it plans to vote Dec. 9 on whether to adopt a policy that would open up restrooms and changing areas to members of the opposite sex.

The ADF letters explain that, contrary to what some mistakenly believe, no federal law requires public schools to allow boys into girls’ restrooms or girls into boys’ restrooms. In fact, schools and school districts could be exposing themselves to legal liability for violating students’ privacy rights and placing children in potentially unsafe conditions.

“Schools have a duty to protect the privacy, safety, and dignity of all students,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “No child should be forced into an intimate setting – like a bathroom or a locker room – with a child of the opposite sex. Our model policy provides a solution that prevents children from being exposed to threats to their privacy and safety and prevents schools from being exposed to liability.”

“Our recommended policy demonstrates that schools can accommodate the desires of a small number of students without compromising the rights of other children and their parents,” added ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “Any privacy and safety policy should respect all children because every child matters. No policy should be tailored to a few students at the expense of all the others.”

The ADF letter accompanying the model policy cites pertinent legal precedent, including court rulings that support the ability of public schools to restrict restrooms to members of the same sex for privacy and safety reasons without violating Title IX, a federal law concerning sex discrimination in public school programs and activities.

“Allowing students to use opposite-sex restrooms and locker rooms would seriously endanger students’ privacy and safety, undermine parental authority, violate religious students’ right of conscience, and severely impair an environment conducive to learning,” the ADF letter states. “These dangers are so clear-cut that a school district allowing such activity would clearly expose itself – and its teachers – to tort liability. Consequently, school districts should reject polices that force students to share restrooms and locker rooms with members of the opposite sex.”

“We advise school districts to adopt the attached policy regarding students’ use of restrooms and changing areas instead,” the letter continues. “It not only accommodates transgender students, but also protects other students’ privacy and free exercise rights, and parents’ right to educate their children, as well as insulates school districts from legal liability. If a school district adopts our model policy and it is challenged in court, Alliance Defending Freedom will review the facts and if appropriate offer to defend that district free of charge.”
  • Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’-koh)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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