Appeal Court to Hear Florida Transgender Bathroom Case


The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear a transgender bathroom case in February originating out of St. Johns County, Florida. The case revolves around a student at a high school, Drew Adams, who desired to use the boys’ bathroom. Adams was previously required to use a gender-neutral or girls’ bathroom, as Adams was born a biological female.

Adams identifies as a transgender male, and a 3-judge panel ruled this past July that the St. Johns County school board policy preventing Adams from using the boys’ bathroom was “arbitrary.”

“The school district gives no explanation for why a birth certificate provided at the time of enrollment takes priority over the same document provided at the time the bathroom policy is applied to the student,” said the July 14 ruling, written by Judge Beverly Martin and joined by Judge Jill Pryor. “And we have come up with no explanation of our own. Mr. Adams has a birth certificate and a driver’s license issued by the state of Florida stating that he is male. But the school district refuses to accept for the purposes of the bathroom policy Mr. Adams’s sex listed on those current government-issued documents.”

The school board subsequently asked the full appeals court to hear the case saying the 3-judge panel missed the broader issue.

“This case has always been about whether a definition of sex founded in the real and enduring biological differences between boys and girls substantially advances the important privacy interests of students to use the bathroom free from members of the opposite biological sex,” the motion to appeal said. “Yet, the court has not answered that question. The school board requests that the entire panel of this court do so.”

The chief judge of the appeal court, Judge William Pryor, wrote a dissent to the 3-judge panel’s ruling. Pryor said the majority opinion “distorts the challenged policy in a brand-new way, and it invents a legal claim the parties never presented.”

Even though the lawsuit was filed in 2017 and Adams has since graduated from high school, the family continued the case. U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan ruled in favor of Adams in 2018, which lead to the school district’s appeal.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at The Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips. 




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