Transgender students can use another bathroom in Indiana after Supreme Court declines case

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On Tuesday, the Supreme Court declined to decide whether schools can ban transgender students from using a bathroom that reflects their gender identity, leaving in place a lower court ruling that allowed a transgender middle school boy in Indiana to use the boys' bathroom.

The lower courts decided last year, the same year Indiana lawmakers passed two bills viewed as anti-transgender, one prohibiting gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors by the end of this year and the other requiring parental notification for students who wish to change their pronouns.

Cases regarding transgender students have been popping up all over the country including disputes over whether they can participate in school sports and teachers using a student's preferred pronouns.

Others are reading:Indiana parents asking U.S. Supreme Court to take case involving custody of trans teen

The decision to deny the case represented a victory for LGBTQ+ advocates, though the question probably will eventually return to the Supreme Court.

"This is a step in the right direction in our ongoing fight to protect LGBTQ+ youth from anti-equality extremism," the Human Rights Campaign said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

What was the lawsuit about?

A lawsuit filed in December 2021 alleged the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville did not provide a transgender student with access to the bathrooms reflective of his gender identity.

The lawsuit also alleged that school staff and administrators regularly misused the boy's pronouns.

The boy felt “isolated and punished” by the school, which impacted his academic performance, according to the complaint. 

Previously:Indiana case on transgender school bathroom use left for Supreme Court to decide

This is not the first lawsuit regarding transgender rights in schools and it may not be the last.

The lower courts affirmed the transgender student was able to use the boy's bathroom

Following a 2022 preliminary injunction by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville was required to allow the seventh grader, to use the boys' bathrooms.

In August 2023, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed lower courts’ rulings that transgender students should be able to use those facilities. The judges who upheld the case said they were waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and will therefore not revisit their decision.

The case was brought before the Supreme Court this week as the school district wanted a final answer to this ongoing debate over transgender students' rights.

The Supreme Court has passed up this case, meaning the lower courts' decision still stands.

USAToday reporter Maureen Groppe contributed to this report.

Katie Wiseman is a trending and breaking news intern at IndyStar. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter @itskatiewiseman.

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