Lambda Legal to 11th Circuit: Affirm Decision That Ordered Florida School to Provide Equal Restroom Access to Transgender Student

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February 22, 2022

Lambda Legal today urged the full panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to affirm a lower court ruling that required a Jacksonville, Florida-area school district to allow a male transgender student, Andrew Adams, to use the restroom that matches his gender.  

“All students should be treated with respect and care in our schools. All I asked was to be treated the same as other boys and to be recognized for who I am, but the school discriminated against me simply because I am transgender,” said plaintiff Andrew Adams, now a college student. “I hope that this court see this exclusion for what it is, discrimination, with painful consequences.”  

“Today we asked the full Eleventh Circuit to uphold the well-reasoned ruling of the U.S. District Court that treating Andrew Adams differently because he is transgender is discriminatory and unconstitutional,” said Tara Borelli, Senior Counsel, Lambda Legal. “As state legislatures increasingly target transgender youth for clear and harmful discriminatory treatment, we hope that the Eleventh Circuit will continue to stand as a bulwark against these attacks and protect this vulnerable population.” 

Lambda Legal argued that the district court ruled correctly in finding that the school district’s policy to exclude transgender students from the restrooms that match their gender is unlawful because it discriminates based on sex in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.  

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit on behalf of Adams in June 2017 in the U.S District Court for the Middle District of Florida.  Andrew Adams’ case was the country’s first trial involving a transgender student’s equal access to restrooms. In July 2018, the district court ordered St. Johns County School District to allow Adams to use the boys’ restroom at Nease High School, like all the other boys. The school district then appealed that ruling to the Eleventh Circuit.  

In August 2020, and again in July 2021, a 3-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the lower court ruling. The full court subsequently vacated the rulings and agreed to hear the case before the full court.  

“I just hope that this Court will put an end to the hurtful discrimination my son was subjected to when the school banned him from the boys’ restrooms. We remain optimistic that our son will prevail, and that a decision in his favor will send a strong message to transgender kids that they are valuable and worthy of equal treatment.” said Andrew’s mother, Erica Adams Kasper. 

Tara Borelli, Paul D. Castillo, and Omar Gonzalez-Pagan are handling the matter for Lambda Legal. They are joined by Kirsten Doolittle of the Law Office of Kirsten Doolittle, P.A.; and Jennifer Altman, Markenzy Lapointe, Shani Rivaux, Aryeh Kaplan, Cynthia Robertson, and William Miller, of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. 

Read more about the lawsuits and the briefs here: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/fl_adams-v-school-board-st-johns-county  

Watch a video about Andrew’s story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woSgPZvqhbM