Transgender student 'always had hope' he'd win restroom lawsuit
Court orders St. Johns County district to allow access to boys restroom
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Days after winning a federal lawsuit against the St. Johns County School District, 17-year-old transgender student Drew Adams told News4Jax that he never gave up hope.
Adams' family sued the district over a policy that required Adams, a student at Nease High School, to use a gender-neutral bathroom on campus instead of the boys restroom. Adams has identified as a male since 2015.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Corrigan ruled Thursday that Adams should be allowed to use the boys bathroom.
Corrigan wrote in his decision:
"[T]he evidence is that Drew Adams poses no threat to the privacy or safety of any of his fellow students. Rather, Drew Adams is just like every other student at Nease High School, a teenager coming of age in a complicated, uncertain and changing world. When it comes to his use of the bathroom, the law requires that he be treated like any other boy."
Adams and his mother, Erica Adams Kasper, visited The Morning Show to talk about the lawsuit and what Adams expects for his senior year, which begins in August.
“It's one of those things -- you can't imagine it going any other way, because you're going to get depressed about it, so you can't do anything but have hope,” Adams told Hamilton. “We can't let negativity get in our heads and stop us from pursuing the progress that we need to make.”
Adams praised his legal team, which argued the district's policy to exclude transgender students from the restrooms that match their gender was unconstitutional. They said the policy discriminates based on sex, which violates the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments Act. Corrigan ruled in Adams' favor on both counts.
Adams, an honor student who plans to attend medical school to become a psychiatrist, volunteers at the Mayo Clinic and plays four musical instruments.
He said he wants to be treated like any other boy and that he has not faced bullying, despite taking the district to court.
“Everyone that I've talked to has been completely supportive or indifferent at the lowest, so I don't expect anything negative,” Adams said of the upcoming school year.
St. Johns County School Superintendent Tim Forsom released a statement Friday about the ruling:
“This is a sensitive matter that brings emotional reactions from the community. As a school district, our purpose is to provide an educational environment that promotes learning and makes all students feel secure and supported. We believed our policy was legal and one which struck a balance of the rights of all students. We are disappointed with Judge Corrigan’s decision, but respect the legal process and will abide by the final outcome. We are presently studying the judge’s decision and will in the near future receive guidance from the School Board which will provide direction on the district’s next steps.”
Adams used the boys restroom when he started his freshman year at Nease High School. After an anonymous complaint was made, he was told he could only use gender-neutral restrooms.
Kasper said her family supports her son and advised parents to be patient with their children and listen.
“If there's something you don't know, do the research, look it up, learn the science. Learn what's going on in the world and be open-minded,” Kasper said. “I just trust Drew to be who he is, and it's the best support any parent can give.”
While the lawsuit only involved Adams, St. Johns County school officials are aware of 16 other transgender students. Adams said last week that he hopes the ruling helps them, too.
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