Judge rules against parents of transgender 5th-grader forced to stop using girls’ bathroom

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A judge in Maine has ruled in favor of the Orono School District and against the parents of a transgender child who was prohibited from using the girls’ bathroom.

School officials had told the child, then a fifth grader, to use a staff bathroom after receiving a complaint from the grandfather of a male student, the Bangor Daily News reports.

The child’s parents and the Maine Human Rights Commission sued the school district in 2009 on behalf of the child over access to the girls’ bathroom. The way the school treated the student and bullying by other students were also at issue.

Before the lawsuit was filed, the Maine Human Rights Commission had found that the school did discriminate against the student.

However, Justice William Anderson granted summary judgment to the school district.

“The court is not unsympathetic to [the girl’s] plight, or that of her parents,” Anderson said in his lengthy opinion, according to the Bangor Daily News. “Although others mistreated [the girl] because she is transgender, our Maine Human Rights Act only holds a school accountable for deliberate indifference to known, severe and pervasive student-on-student harassment.

“In this case, the school acted within the bounds of its authority in prohibiting [the girl] from using the girls’ restroom; it did not itself harass [the girl] by its actions, and it was not deliberately indifferent to the harassment that [she] experienced from others,” Anderson added.

The attorney representing the parents, Bennett Klein of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, has stated that the parents will appeal the decision.

“This case involves a fifth-grade girl who was made an outcast by the school and subjected to severe bullying,” Klein told the Bangor Daily News. “We think the judge was wrong on the law and ignored critical facts.”

The student, now in high school, reportedly attends a private school in southern Maine.

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Eric Owens