A lawsuit against the Sutherlin School District over transgender bathroom use was dropped Wednesday.
Summer Eastwood and her son, identified only as “T.B.” in the lawsuit, had sued the school district in Douglas County Circuit Court in May. They hoped to force the school district to mandate students use bathrooms matching their biological gender at birth. Sutherlin’s school policy allows transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.
Eastwood argued her son and other students were embarrassed when a transgender male student identified in the lawsuit as Tyler, who was born a girl but identifies as a boy, walked in while they were using the urinals in the boys’ bathroom.
The Sutherlin School District’s decision to allow a male transgender student to use the boys…
Ray Hacke of the Pacific Justice Institute, who represented Eastwood and her son, said his clients chose to drop the case for two reasons. First, Hacke said the school district had agreed to improve privacy in the school bathrooms, including providing walls around urinals and showers.
Second, he said recent court decisions in similar cases haven’t gone their way. For example, a federal judge last month dismissed a similar lawsuit against a school district in Dallas, Oregon, in which parents had sought to block the district’s policy of allowing transgender students to use the bathroom matching their gender identity.
“This is the way that courts are trending. We at Pacific Justice Institute don’t agree with it. We do believe there are legitimate reasons to keep bathrooms segregated by sex,” Hacke said.
Hacke said his clients continue to “feel strongly that girls don’t belong in boys’ bathrooms.”
“And make no mistake, Tyler is a girl,” Hacke said.
However, he said the school district’s efforts to improve privacy are “at the very least the next best thing.”
“We said from the outset it’s about privacy not prejudice, and (Eastwood’s) concerns about privacy have been assuaged. So that’s the bottom line,” Hacke said.
He said creating stalls around urinals and showers is a fair compromise.
“This way Tyler can have access to the boys’ bathrooms and locker rooms, and the boys can feel like they at least have measures in place to keep them from feeling completely weirded out,” he said.
Sutherlin School Superintendent Terry Prestianni said that facility alterations to increase privacy began soon after the issue of restroom use was raised, and they will continue as time and finances allow. He said all urinals in restrooms near common areas like the activity center and hallway bathrooms now have privacy doors, and some shower privacy stalls have also been created.
“Obviously we’re glad that the case has been dismissed. Sutherlin School District will continue with our overall mission to ensure that all students are provided with a safe and respectful learning environment,” said Prestianni, who had also been a named defendant in the lawsuit.
“We do a good job educating students, and we’re going to continue to do that,” he said.