OKLAHOMA CITY — A state law requiring students to use the restroom matching their biological sex has drawn a lawsuit.
The suit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, based in Oklahoma City. Three students are plaintiffs.
It alleges that transgender students face discriminatory treatment based on sex, gender identity or transgender status.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education, the State Board of Education, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, four schools and Attorney General John O’Connor are named as defendants.
The three students, who are transgender, say in the suit that they are entitled to an education without being singled out for discriminatory treatment.
Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 615 on May 25. The law requires students to use multi-occupancy restrooms and changing rooms that match the sex on their original birth certificates.
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The measure requires districts to provide a “reasonable accommodation” by providing single-occupancy facilities for those who do not wish to use the multiple-occupancy facilities.
The accommodation violates the students’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the suit alleges.
“Offering students who are transgender a choice between single-occupancy restrooms, restrooms designated for a gender incongruent with who they are, or no restrooms at all is discrimination,” the suit says.
“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 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 suit says.
Under the state law, noncompliant districts are to have state funding cut by 5% for the fiscal year following the noncompliance.
The suit seeks to ban enforcement of the law.
It was brought by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Oklahoma, and the Covington & Burlington firm.
Hanna Roberts, ACLU of Oklahoma staff attorney, said this election year has been overrun with attacks on youths and their ability to feel safe and receive an inclusive education.
“Not only does promoting these baseless fears for political gain put our most vulnerable students at risk, but it also sends the message that they are not worthy of a full life,” she said. “With this case, we hope to make clear that trans students belong.”
O’Connor and the State Department of Education had no comment on the lawsuit.
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