Parents for Privacy v. Barr, 021220 FED9, 18-35708

Docket Nº:18-35708
Opinion Judge:TASHIMA, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Party Name:Parents for Privacy; Jon Golly; Kris Golly, individually and as guardians ad litem for A.G.; Nicole Lillie; Melissa Gregory, individually and as guardian ad litem for T.F.; Parents Rights in Education, an Oregon nonprofit corporation; Lindsay Golly, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. William P. Barr, Attorney General; Betsy DeVos; U.S. Department of ...
Attorney:J. Ryan Adams (argued), Canby, Oregon; Herbert G. Grey, Beaverton, Oregon; for Plaintiffs-Appellants. Dennis Fan (argued) and Marleigh D. Dover, Appellate Staff; Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney; Joseph H. Hunt, Assistant Attorney General; Civil Division, United States Department of Just...
Judge Panel:Before: A. Wallace Tashima, Susan P. Graber, and John B. Owens, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:February 12, 2020
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Parents for Privacy; Jon Golly; Kris Golly, individually and as guardians ad litem for A.G.; Nicole Lillie; Melissa Gregory, individually and as guardian ad litem for T.F.; Parents Rights in Education, an Oregon nonprofit corporation; Lindsay Golly, Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

William P. Barr, Attorney General; Betsy DeVos; U.S. Department of Education; United States Department of Justice; Dallas School District No. 2, Defendants-Appellees,

Basic Rights Oregon, Intervenor-Defendant-Appellee.

No. 18-35708

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

February 12, 2020

Argued and Submitted July 11, 2019 Portland, Oregon

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Oregon D.C. No. CV 17-1813 HZ Marco A. Hernández, District Judge, Presiding

J. Ryan Adams (argued), Canby, Oregon; Herbert G. Grey, Beaverton, Oregon; for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Dennis Fan (argued) and Marleigh D. Dover, Appellate Staff; Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney; Joseph H. Hunt, Assistant Attorney General; Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Defendants-Appellees William P. Barr, Betsy DeVos; U.S. Department of Education, and United States Department of Justice.

Blake H. Fry (argued) and Peter R. Mersereau, Mersereau Shannon LLP, Portland, Oregon, for Defendants-Appellees Dallas School District No. 2.

Gabriel Arkles (argued) and Shayna Medley-Warsoff, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, New York, New York; Peter D. Hawkes and Darin M. Sands, Lane Powell PC, Portland, Oregon; Matthew W. dos Santos and Kelly Simon, ACLU Foundation of Oregon; for Intervenor-Defendant-Appellee.

Jesse Ryan Loffler, Cozen O'Connor, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for Amici Curiae Transgender Students and Allies.

Anthony Todaro, Jeffrey DeGroot, and Rachael Kessler, DLA Piper LLP (US), Seattle, Washington; Fatima Goss Graves, Emily Martin, Neena Chaudhry, and Sunu P. Chandy, National Women's Law Center, Washington, D.C.; for Amicus Curiae National Women's Law Center.

Wesley R. Powell, Mary Eaton, and Patricia O. Haynes, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, New York, New York; Arthur L. Coleman, Education Counsel LLC, Washington, D.C.; for Amici Curiae National PTA, GLSEN, American School Counselor Association, and National Association of School Psychologists.

Devi M. Rao, Jenner & Block LLP, Washington, D.C.; Andrew G. Sullivan, Jenner & Block LLP, Los Angeles, California; for Amici Curiae American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, and 13 Other Medical, Mental Health, and Other Health Care Organizations.

John C. Dwyer, Maureen P. Alger, Sarah R. Binning, and Emily B. Harrington, Cooley LLP, Palo Alto, California; Kyle Wong, Cooley LLP, San Francisco, California; Shannon Minter, Amy Whelan, and Asaf Orr, National Center for Lesbian Rights, San Francisco, California; Shawn Meerkamper, Transgender Law Center, Oakland, California; for Amici Curiae PFLAG Inc., Trans Youth Equality Foundation, Gender Spectrum, Gender Diversity, and Transactive Gender Project.

Alice O'Brien, Eric A. Harrington, and Gypsy M. Moore, National Education Association, Washington, D.C., for Amicus Curiae National Education Association.

Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General; Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General; Jona J. Maukonen, Assistant Attorney-In-Charge; Office of the Attorney General, Salem, Oregon; for Amicus Curiae State of Oregon.

Cynthia Cook Robertson, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, Washington, D.C.; Tara L. Borelli, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., Atlanta, Georgia; Richard M. Segal and Nathaniel R. Smith, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, San Diego, California; Robert C.K. Boyd and William C. Miller, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, Washington, D.C.; Peter C. Renn, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., Los Angeles, California; for Amici Curiae School Administrators from Thirty States and the District of Columbia.

George G. Gordon, Ryan M. Moore, and Thomas J. Miller, Dechert LLP, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Steven M. Freeman, Kimberley Plotnik, David Barkey, and Melissa Garlick, Anti-Defamation League, New York, New York; for Amici Curiae Anti-Defamation League; Americans United for Separation of Church and State; Bend the Arc Jewish Action; Central Pacific Conference of the United Church of Christ; Corvallis-area Lavender Women; Greater Seattle Business Association; Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc.; Human Rights Campaign; Jewish Council for Public Affairs; Jewish Federation of Greater Portland; Keshet: For LGBTQ Equality in Jewish Life; National Center for Transgender Equality; National Center for Youth Law; National Council of Jewish Women; National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance; OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates; People For the American Way Foundation; Public Counsel; South Asian Americans Leading Together; Union for Reform Judaism; and Central Conference of American Rabbis.

Before: A. Wallace Tashima, Susan P. Graber, and John B. Owens, Circuit Judges.

SUMMARY[*]

Civil Rights

The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action alleging that an Oregon public school district violated Title IX, as well as the constitutional rights of students and of parents, when it allowed transgender students to use school bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers that match their gender identity rather than the biological sex they were assigned at birth.

The Dallas School District No. 2 implemented a Student Safety Plan after a student who had been born and who remained biologically female publicly identified as a boy, and asked school officials to allow him to use the boys' bathroom and locker room. The Plan acknowledged the student as a "transgender male" and permitted him to use the boys' locker room and bathroom facilities with his peers. The Plan provided that the student could use any of the bathrooms in the building to which he identified sexually. The Student Safety Plan also provided, among other things, that all staff would receive training and instruction regarding Title IX, and that teachers would teach about anti-bullying and harassment.

The panel held that there is no Fourteenth Amendment fundamental privacy right to avoid all risk of intimate exposure to or by a transgender person who was assigned the opposite biological sex at birth. Thus, the panel held that plaintiffs failed to show that the contours of the privacy right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment were so broad as to protect against the School District's implementation of the Student Safety Plan. This conclusion was supported by the fact that the Student Safety Plan provided alternative options and privacy protections to those who did not want to share facilities with a transgender student, even though those alternative options admittedly appeared inferior and less convenient.

The panel held that the Student Safety Plan sought to avoid discrimination and ensure the safety and well-being of transgender students; it did not violate Title IX. Thus, the panel held that a policy that treats all students equally does not discriminate based on sex in violation of Title IX, and that the normal use of privacy facilities does not constitute actionable sexual harassment under Title IX just because a person is transgender. The panel stated that just because Title IX authorizes sex-segregated facilities does not mean that they are required, let alone that they must be segregated based only on biological sex and cannot accommodate gender identity. Nowhere does the statute explicitly state, or even suggest, that schools may not allow transgender students to use the facilities that are most consistent with their gender identity.

The panel held that the Fourteenth Amendment does not provide a fundamental parental right to determine the bathroom policies of the public schools to which parents may send their children, either independent of the parental right to direct the upbringing and education of their children or encompassed by it. The panel stated that given that Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit case law not only have not recognized the specific rights asserted by plaintiffs, but further foreclosed recognizing such rights as being encompassed by the fundamental parental rights protected by the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause, amendment of this claim would be futile.

The panel held that the Student Safety Plan was rationally related to a legitimate state purpose and did not infringe plaintiffs' First Amendment free exercise rights because it did not target religious conduct. The panel held that because the Student Safety Plan qualified as neutral and generally applicable, it was not subject to strict scrutiny. The panel rejected plaintiffs' argument that strict scrutiny was required...

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