Platte City, Mo. – The ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit on behalf of a former Platte County High School student challenging the district’s actions that discriminated against her based on her transgender status, her sex designated at birth, and her clinical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The lawsuit is brought under the Missouri Human Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Missouri Constitution and urges the court to find that the Platte County School District’s practices and policies are unconstitutional and award damages and fees.
“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,” said Gillian Wilcox, Deputy Director of Litigation at the ACLU of Missouri. “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.”
The student, referred to as R.F. in the lawsuit, identified as female at a very young age She began counseling to start her social and medical transition to female in 2019. Following a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and at the recommendation of counselors and doctors, R.F. was prescribed hormone blockers and, eventually, hormone replacement therapy. R.F. lives as a female and was living as a female when she was denied the use of the girls’ restroom at her school.
At the beginning of her freshman year, R.F. was informed by the assistant principal that the school district required her to use either the restroom of her sex designated at birth or the single gender-neutral restroom at the school. This forced R.F. into the impossible dilemma of using an impractical single-stall restroom where there was often a line as it was used by all students and risk missing or being late to class, using the boys’ restroom even though she is a transgender female, or using one of the many the girls’ restrooms and risk punishment. R.F. preferred to use one of the girls’ restrooms located throughout the school.
The school responded through a series of escalating punishments ranging from verbal warnings to out-of-school suspension. R.F. did use the boys’ restroom upon returning from suspension, where she experienced harassment and a threat of rape from a male classmate.
The prohibition on using the girls’ restroom, as well as the harassment, caused R.F. to experience anxiety and depression, leaving her afraid to attend school because of how she was treated, R.F. completed the last several months of her freshman year virtually.
Platte County School District’s harmful practice and policy of forcing transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds with their sex designated at birth leads to unnecessary discipline and results in anxiety, depression, and harassment for transgender students.
In recent months, the ACLU of Missouri, in partnership with Lambda Legal and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, LLC., has challenged multiple attempts by the government to ban gender affirming care, including last week’s lawsuit challenging Senate Bill 49 and an earlier lawsuit challenging the Attorney General’s failed attempt to use the state’s consumer protection laws to ban all gender-affirming care.
The ACLU of Missouri will continue to explore all options to expand the rights of transgender Missourians.