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Bridge v. Oklahoma State Department of Education

Location: Oklahoma
Status: Ongoing
Last Update: January 20, 2023

What's at Stake

Thousands of school districts across the country operate with nondiscrimination policies inclusive of their transgender students, including the legal right for these students to access facilities (bathrooms, locker rooms, etc.) consistent with their gender identity. These policies help protect transgender students from harassment, being isolated from their peers, and thrive in a learning environment that believes in their fundamental rights.

Summary

The ACLU, the ACLU of Oklahoma, Lambda Legal, and pro bono co-counsel Covington & Burling LLP filed a federal lawsuit on September 6, 2022 on behalf of three transgender students against a number of state and local agencies and government officials challenging a new school facilities access law that singles out transgender students for unequal treatment.

Passed into law in May of 2022, Oklahoma SB 615 requires all public and public charter schools in the state that serve pre-K through 12th grade students to designate multiple occupancy restrooms at school for exclusive use of either the male or the female sex, as designated on individuals’ original birth certificates. SB 615 also requires that school district boards of education and governing boards of charter schools adopt disciplinary policies applicable to those who do not comply with such designations. It further requires the Oklahoma Board of Education to determine which schools are not in compliance, which will receive a 5% reduction in state funding and expose them to suit by parents or guardians of other students. The complaint charges that SB 615 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, by discriminating on the basis of sex, gender identity, and transgender status.

The lawsuit, Bridge v. Oklahoma State Department of Education, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on behalf of Andrew Bridge, 16, a senior at Noble High School just outside of Norman, OK, and his parents Aysha Palmer and Eli Bridge, as well as two other plaintiffs and their families who are proceeding using pseudonyms to protect their privacy.

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