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Trans-inclusive restroom policy at Bethel Local Schools upheld by judge

The Bethel Local Schools Middle School in Tipp City
Chris Welter
The Bethel Local Schools Middle School in Tipp City

A group of conservative parents in Tipp City have failed to convince a federal judge that the Bethel local school district's bathroom policy is unconstitutional.

The rejected lawsuit came after the Bethel school district decided last year to let students use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

The group of parents seeking to change the school’s bathroom policy was made up of both Christians and Muslims. They argue that their children sharing a bathroom with a transgender person violates their religious beliefs.

David Carey with the ACLU of Ohio said that’s not how his organization — who intervened in the case on behalf of the school district — or the judges saw it.

“So it's good to have a win in this area,” Carey said. “It's good to have a reaffirmation that the law protects all people, and that the Constitution protects all people, and that it is not to be used in the way that the plaintiffs were trying to use it here essentially as a vehicle for discrimination.”

Carey said the legal victory for his organization comes during a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Ohio in recent years.

“What they were asking for here was, frankly, an enormous step in the law and a very disturbing one to allow one student's religion, or their parents' religion, dictate the accommodations that are available to a different student in the school,” he said.

The group of parents has the option to appeal the recent ruling.

Both the parents’ lawyers (American First Legal) and members of the school board did not respond to WYSO’s request for comment by publication.

Copyright 2023 WYSO.

Chris Welter is the Managing Editor at The Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.

Chris got his start in radio in 2017 when he completed a six-month training at the Center for Community Voices. Most recently, he worked as a substitute host and the Environment Reporter at WYSO.