Transgender student sues school for not letting him use boys' restroom and worsening his kidney disease

Transgender student sues school for not letting him use boys' restroom and worsening his kidney disease
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A North Carolina high school student who underwent female to male gender transition filed a lawsuit against his school about its non-inclusive bathroom policy. He alleged that the kidney disease he has suffered since birth had gotten worse since he decided to become a boy but was not allowed to use the boys’ bathroom.

The lawsuit was filed last month against the Cleveland Board of Education, Superintendent Stephen Fisher, and Kings Mountain High School (KMHS ) principal, Julie Rikard. According to a local newspaper that first reported it, the biologically female student, referred to in the lawsuit as 'John Doe', began gender transition before his freshman year. The filed court documents state that the student and his mother had informed KMHS before his freshman year that he identified as male, asking that he be allowed to use the boys’ bathrooms at school. Rikard allegedly denied the request and said the student had to use the girls’ restroom only. 

“Because I am a boy, I could not use the girls’ restroom comfortably and ended up avoiding the restroom for the entirety of the year,” the teen said in a sworn statement. In the few emergency instances when he was forced to use the bathroom in school, Doe described how the girls at the school would laugh at him “because they knew I was trans and made fun of me for having to use the girls’ restroom.”

The teen started taking testosterone during her sophomore year. While he was allowed to use a separate teachers’ bathroom when he began transitioning, he claimed he would get “looks” from teachers when he did. The student said he would simply avoid going altogether when he could – a decision that his doctors say may have worsened his kidney disease, which he has been battling since birth.

Dr. Deanna Adkins, a pediatric endocrinologist whose bio at Duke University said she treats “adolescent gender care,” who has been the teen’s doctor since 2017, has also weighed in. "In addition to the escalation in his anxiety and distress that has resulted from Kings Mountain High School’s refusal to let John access the restroom on equal terms as other boys, John’s kidney function has also been compromised as a result of his lack of access to appropriate restroom facilities.”

Adkins and one other doctor had sent letters to KMHS that urged the school to allow the student to use the boys’ bathrooms nearest to his classroom "for his physical and mental health”, which were ignored. "We made an accommodation for the student that we felt was in the best interest of the student at the time,” said the school board's chairwoman, Shearra Miller, in an interview about the matter. A judge has issued a temporary restraining order to allow Doe to use the boys’ restrooms ahead of a hearing.

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