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ACLU suing Martinsville Schools on behalf of transgender student

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — A federal judge could soon decide if the Martinsville school district violated a transgender student’s civil rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit in December on behalf of the student, who identifies as male and attends middle school in Martinsville.

The suit claims the student requested permission to use the boys’ restroom but was denied and told to use the girls’ restroom or the single restroom in the health clinic.

Kenneth Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana, says it’s problematic when transgender students are singled out from their peers.

“Denying transgender students the ability to use the bathrooms in their schools consistent with their gender identity violates both the Constitution and federal statutory law,” Falk said.

After a follow-up meeting with a school counselor, the student was told he couldn’t use the boys’ restroom, according to the lawsuit.

Despite that directive, the student started using the boys’ restroom. The suit says the student was reported to school officials and threatened with a punishment.

“Courts have noted [that] to tell the transgender student, who is certainly at that point in their life suffering from feeling different from everyone else, that they have to use the ‘special bathroom’ is incredibly destructive,” Falk said.

The suit also says staff and teachers regularly referred to the boy as “she” and “her.”

The student was eventually able to legally change his name, but a state court judge refused to change the gender marker on the birth certificate.

“Because, again, singling the student out, making the student have to stand up in front of his of her class and say, ‘No, I’m real, I’m female, use the right name’ it is damaging,” Falk said.

The lawsuit requests the district allow him to play on the school’s boys’ soccer team.

News 8 reached out to Martinsville Schools for comment but has not heard back.