Adams v. Sch. Bd. of St. Johns Cnty., No. 18-13592

Decision Date07 August 2020
Docket NumberNo. 18-13592
Citation968 F.3d 1286
Parties Drew ADAMS, a minor, BY AND THROUGH his next friend and mother, Erica Adams KASPER, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. SCHOOL BOARD OF ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Florida, Defendant - Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit

Tara L. Borelli, Lambda Legal Education and Defense Fund, Atlanta, GA, Paul David Castillo, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., Dallas, TX, Diana Katherine Flynn, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., Washington, DC, Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Lambda Legal Defense, New York, NY, Jennifer G. Altman, Aryeh Lev Kaplan, Markenzy Lapointe, Shani Rivaux, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP, Miami, FL, William Clarke Miller, Cynthia Cook Robertson, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP, Washington, DC, Richard M. Segal, Nathaniel R. Smith, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP, San Diego, CA, Kirsten Doolittle, The Law Office of Kirsten Doolittle, Jacksonville, FL, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Terry Joseph Harmon, Jeffrey Slanker, Robert Sniffen, Michael P. Spellman, Sniffen & Spellman, PA, Tallahassee, FL, Robert Christopher Barden, RC Barden & Associates, Plymouth, MN, for Defendant-Appellant.

Craig Edward Bertschi, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, LLP, Atlanta, GA, for Amicus Curiae Women's Liberation Front.

James A. Campbell, Attorney General's Office, Lincoln, NE, Gary S. McCaleb, Gary S. McCaleb, Attorney at Law, Flagstaff, AZ, for Amici Curiae Miriam Grossman, Michael Laidlaw, Quentin Van Meter, and Andre Van Mol.

Edward John Jacobs, Victoria Lynn Stork, Joanna F. Wasick, Baker & Hostetler, LLP, New York, NY, for Amici Curiae Airbnb, Inc., Apple, Inc., Asana, Inc., CREDO Mobile, Inc., Deutsche Bank AG, eBay Inc., General Assembly Space, Inc., GitHub, Inc., Glassdoor, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline LLC, Google LLC, IBM Corporation, Indiegogo, Inc., Kaiser Permanente, Knotel, Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., Linden Research, Inc. d/b/a Linden Lab, Lyft, Mapbox, Inc., Marin Software Incorporated, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company "MassMutual", Microsoft Corporation, NIO USA, Inc., Patreon, Inc., Postmates Inc., Replacements, Ltd., Shutterstock, Inc., Spotify USA Inc., Tumblr, Inc., Xerox Corporation, Yelp Inc., and Forge, Inc.

Nathan W. Kellum, Center for Religious Expression, Memphis, TN, Gregory H. Teufel, OGC Law, LLC, Pittsburgh, PA, Robert H. Tyler, Tyler & Bursch LLP, Murrieta, CA, for Amicus Curiae Walt Heyer.

Patricia B. Palacios, Steptoe & Johnson, LLP, David D. Mesa, Jerome Pierce, Steptoe & Johnson, LLP, San Francisco, CA, for Amicus Curiae Terry S. Kogan.

Wesley R. Powell, Willkie Farr & Gallagher, LLP, New York, NY, for Amici Curiae National PTA, GLSEN, The American School Counselor Association, and National Association of School Psychologists.

Charles Alan Rothfeld, Andrew John Pincus, Mayer Brown, LLP, Washington, DC, for Amici Curiae A Better Balance, ADL, Advocates for Youth, American Association of University Women, Atlanta Women for Equality, Beth Chayim Chadashim, California Women Lawyers, California Women's Law Center, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Reproductive Rights, Champion Women, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Equal Rights Advocates, SurvJustice, Equality California, the Impact Fund, Family Values @ Work, The Southwest Women's Law Center, the Women's Law Center of Maryland, Gender Justice, Union for Reform Judaism, Girls for Gender Equity, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Girls Inc., in Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, Women of Reform Judaism, and Men of Reform Judaism, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, UniteWomen.org, Lawyers Club of San Diego, Women Lawyers on Guard Inc., Legal Aid At Work, Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia, Women's Bar Association of the State of New York, Women's Law Project, Legal Momentum, the Women's Legal Defense and Education Fund, Young Women United, Legal Voice, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of Women Lawyers, National Center for Law and Economic Justice, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Council of Jewish Women, Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, National Crittenton, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, National LGBTQ Task Force, SisterReach, National Organization for Women Foundation, Stop Sexual Assault in Schools, and National Women's Law Center.

James E. Tysse, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, Washington, DC, Markos Cleomenes Generales, Jessica Weisel, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, Los Angeles, CA, for Amicus Curiae Scholars Who Study the Transgender Population.

Steven W. Davis, Boies Schiller & Flexner, LLP, Miami, FL, Rosanne C. Baxter, Boies Schiller & Flexner, LLP, Armonk, NY, for Amicus Curiae School Administrators.

Dimitri Portnoi, Alexander Slavin, O'Melveny & Myers, LLP, Los Angeles, CA, for Amici Curiae Casa De Esperanza: National Latina Network for Healthy Families and Communities, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, a Program of Equitas Health, DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Empire Justice Center, Illinois Accountability Initiative, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault, Michigan Coalition To End Domestic & Sexual Violence, Nebraska Coalition To End Domestic and Sexual Violence, Nevada Coalition To End Domestic and Sexual Violence, New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc., New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, Ohio Alliance To End Sexual Violence, Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Day One, Oasis Legal Services, Parent-Child Center, Rape/Domestic Abuse Program, SASA Crisis Center, Voices of Hope, and Women's Center for Advancement.

Dimitri Portnoi, Alexander Slavin, O'Melveny & Myers, LLP, Los Angeles, CA, Maureen P. Alger, Sarah Rebecca Binning, John Charles Dwyer, Emily Harrington, Cooley, LLP, Palo Alto, CA, Kyle C. Wong, Cooley, LLP, San Diego, CA, Shawn Thomas Meerkamper, Transgender Law Center, Oakland, CA, Shannon Price Minter, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Washington, DC, Asaf Orr, National Center for Lesbian Rights, San Francisco, CA, for Amicus Curiae Gender Spectrum.

Andrew W. Amend, New York State Attorney General's Office, New York, NY, for Amici Curiae State of New York, State of Washington, State of California, State of Connecticut, State of Delaware, State of Hawaii, State of Illinois, State of Iowa, State of Maine, State of Maryland, State of Massachusetts, State of Michigan, State of Minnesota, State of New Jersey, State of New Mexico, State of Oregon, State of Pennsylvania, State of Rhode Island, State of Vermont, State of Virginia, and District of Columbia.

Jin Hee Lee, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., New York, NY, for Amicus Curiae NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.

Maureen P. Alger, Sarah Rebecca Binning, John Charles Dwyer, Emily Harrington, Cooley, LLP, Palo Alto, CA, Kyle C. Wong, Cooley, LLP, San Diego, CA, Shawn Thomas Meerkamper, Transgender Law Center, Oakland, CA, Shannon Price Minter, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Washington, DC, Asaf Orr, National Center for Lesbian Rights, San Francisco, CA, for Amici Curiae PFLAG, Inc., Trans Youth Equality Foundation, Gender Diversity, and Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network, Inc.

Clifford Warren Berlow, Jenner & Block, LLP, Chicago, IL, for Amicus Curiae Medical, Nursing, Mental Health, and Other I Health Care Organizations.

Before WILLIAM PRYOR, Chief Judge, MARTIN and JILL PRYOR, Circuit Judges.

MARTIN, Circuit Judge:

Drew Adams is a young man and recent graduate of Nease High School in Florida's St. Johns County School District. Mr. Adams is transgender, meaning when he was born, doctors assessed his sex and wrote "female" on his birth certificate, but today Mr. Adams knows "with every fiber of [his] being" that he is a boy. While Mr. Adams attended Nease High School, school officials considered him a boy in all respects but one: he was forbidden to use the boys’ restroom. Instead, Mr. Adams had the option of using the multi-stall girls’ restrooms, which he found profoundly "insult[ing]." Or he could use a single-stall gender-neutral bathroom, which he found "isolati[ng]," "depress[ing]," "humiliating," and burdensome. After unsuccessful negotiations with the St. Johns County School District over his bathroom use, Mr. Adams brought suit against the St. Johns County School Board (the "School Board") through his next friend and mother, Ms. Erica Adams Kasper. He asserted violations of his rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 ("Title IX"), 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., and the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

After a bench trial, the District Court granted him relief on both claims.

This case calls upon us to decide whether the St. Johns County School District's policy barring Mr. Adams from the boys’ restroom squares with the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and Title IX's prohibition of sex discrimination. We conclude it does not. We affirm the District Court's decision on both questions.

I.

The District Court developed a thorough factual record after a three-day bench trial of Mr. Adams's claims. See Adams ex rel. Kasper v. Sch. Bd. of St. Johns Cty., 318 F. Supp. 3d 1293, 1298–1310 (M.D. Fla. 2018). We recite those facts here, as necessary.

Drew Adams was born in 2000. At birth, doctors...

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27 cases
  • Lange v. Houston County, Georgia, CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:19-cv-392 (MTT)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Georgia
    • October 30, 2020
    ...nor Glenn had any bearing on that issue. Similarly, the Court questions Lange's argument that the Eleventh Circuit's recent decision in Adams by & through Kasper v. Sch. Bd. of St. Johns Cty. , 968 F.3d 1286 (11th Cir. 2020), undermines Geduldig. In Adams , the Court held that a facially di......
  • Jones v. Governor of Fla., No. 20-12003
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • September 11, 2020
    ...141. But it is not unusual for a policy to directly achieve an objective itself. See Adams ex. rel. Kasper v. Sch. Bd. of St. Johns Cnty. , 968 F.3d 1286, –––– (11th Cir. 2020) (W. Pryor, C.J., dissenting). And we do not think it is unnatural to find state interests broader than punishment ......
  • Adams v. Sch. Bd. of St. Johns Cnty.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • July 14, 2021
    ...effort to get broader support among our colleagues, we vacate the opinion issued on August 7, 2020, Adams ex rel. Kasper v. School Board of St. Johns County, 968 F.3d 1286 (11th Cir. 2020), and replace it with this one. This revised opinion does not reach the Title IX question and reaches o......
  • Grimm v. Gloucester Cnty. Sch. Bd.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • August 26, 2020
    ...a transgender student's equal protection claim regarding a bathroom policy); see also Adams ex. rel. Kasper v. Sch. Bd. of St. Johns Cty. , No. 18-13592, 968 F.3d 1286, 1296–97, (11th Cir. Aug. 7, 2020) (same). As in Whitaker , such a policy "cannot be stated without referencing sex." See i......
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6 books & journal articles
  • Transgender Rights and Issues
    • United States
    • Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law No. XXII-2, January 2021
    • January 1, 2021
    ...for sex discrimina-tion under state laws, including state public accommodations laws.474 468. See Adams v. Sch. Bd. of St. Johns Cty., 968 F.3d 1286 (11th Cir. 2020); Grimm v. Gloucester Cty. Sch. Bd., 972 F.3d 586, 607 (4th Cir. 2020); Whitaker v. Kenosha Unif‌ied Sch. Dist. No. 1 Bd. of E......
  • Protecting Transgender Youth After Bostock: Sex Classification, Sex Stereotypes, and the Future of Equal Protection.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 132 No. 4, February 2023
    • February 1, 2023
    ...://perma.cc/9LY2-X32R]. (7). U.S. CONST, amend. XIV, [section] 1, cl. 4. (8.) See Adams ex rel. Kasperv. Sch. Bd. of St. John's Cnry., 968 F.3d 1286,1295, 1310-11 (nth Cir. 2020), vacated and superseded, 3 F.4th 1299 (nth Cir. 2021), reh'ggranted, 9 F.4A 1369 (nth Cir. 2021); Grimm v. Glouc......
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    • United States
    • Suffolk University Law Review Vol. 54 No. 1, January 2021
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    ...courts use Title VII jurisprudence to interpret sex discrimination under Title IX); Adams ex rel. Kasper v. Sch. Bd. of St. Johns Cnty., 968 F.3d 1286, 1305 (11th Cir. 2020) (noting Supreme Court uses Title VII to interpret Title IX due to similarities between acts); Nondiscrimination in He......
  • Rushing to Get Rid of Greek Life and Social Clubs: The Impact of Bostock on Single-Sex College Organizations.
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    • Case Western Reserve Law Review Vol. 71 No. 3, March 2021
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    ...Circuit in Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County used Bostock to invalidate a similar bathroom policy the district had in place. 968 F.3d 1286, 1304-05 (11th Cir. 2020). While Grimm and Adams focus on discriminatory bathroom policies, it is likely that courts will apply Bostock to other......
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