A group of Ohio parents is suing a local school board over a new transgender facilities policy that lets students use the bathroom and locker room of the gender they identify as.
The group of Muslim and Christian parents in Bethel, Ohio, filed a lawsuit in federal court on Nov. 22 against the school board of Bethel Local School District, seeking to block the district's new policy.
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs' children "hold their urine and avoid using the restroom at school if at all possible" due to the policy. If the children do use the bathroom, it causes them "anxiety and emotional distress," and they fear they will encounter the opposite sex.
One of the children, a ninth grade girl, has a friend accompany her to the bathroom to ensure no male "violates her modesty."
The parents say the policy infringes on their parental and constitutionally protected religious rights, in addition to violating Ohio state law and Title IX.
The lawsuit states that a district faculty member proposed the new facilities policy at a school board meeting in September 2021 and the change was adopted in January with no opportunity for the public to comment.
"The board's actions keep the community in the dark regarding its new rules and policies for intimate facilities by refusing to answer basic questions parents need to know to make decisions about their child's education," the lawsuit reads. "The parental right to direct the education, safety and upbringing of their children is the oldest fundamental right recognized by the Supreme Court. And the board's actions deny these parents the same."
Transgender students were previously allowed to use a private bathroom, but the faculty member who proposed the change said it was unfair to make a transgender student do so merely "because they were born a man."
According to the complaint, two Muslim parents even contributed money from their own pocket to build a sex-neutral restroom next to the other restrooms at one school. The district took the funding and built the bathroom but introduced the transgender policy anyway.
The school board asserted that it had "no choice" but to make the change because the federal government "was threatening school funding, and potential litigation was imminent."
America First Legal, the conservative legal firm representing the group of parents, said it will continue to champion parental rights.
"School districts across the country — the leadership of which have been captured by woke ideologues and weak-spined bureaucrats — are actively destroying fundamental rights," AFL Vice President Gene Hamilton said in a statement.
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