The lawsuit against Vigo County School School Corp. wants school staff to use the correct pronouns for the students (in this case, men) and their names. It also wants to mandate that proper names and pronouns be reflected in school publications, such as the student yearbook.
Ken Falk, who serves as legal director for the ACLU Indiana, told local outlet WTHI that the two freshmen are living with gender dysphoria, a common condition people live with when their gender identity doesn’t match their assigned sex at birth.
“They’re almost ready to start male hormones,” Falk added. “That will make them look even more masculine than they do now, and they should be treated like young men.” Falk argued that one way to help a person support and alleviate their gender dysphoria is to have them live as closely as possible in accordance with their gender identity – which makes perfect sense. The two students involved in the lawsuit have received hormone therapy under the supervision of their doctors and have been using masculine pronouns and names since elementary school.
The ACLU argues that the district is violating students’ rights under the Fourteenth Amendment and Title XI by denying them proper access to the bathroom. In the short team, the ACLU is seeking a preliminary injunction, which would give basic dignity to the students until a final decision is made. The district now has a few weeks to respond.
It goes without saying why it is so important for trans youth that their name and pronouns are respected, especially in a school or community setting. Being called by the wrong name (sometimes called a “dead name”) can be traumatic and disorienting. It can also “out” the person to classmates or peers as trans, leading to potentially dangerous situations.
The same goes for bathrooms and locker rooms – being forced to use the wrong bathroom can turn a person “out” very quickly, potentially leading to harassment, abuse or bullying. To avoid situations like this, trans youth (and even adults) will sometimes avoid activities that require changing rooms or no bathroom use at all, which, again, is fundamentally unfair, but can also be bad for physical health.
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