Roosevelt Institute | Cornell University

Title IX and the Bathroom Bill

By Emily SilfkinPublished January 1, 2017

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Title IX is one of the most important parts of our country's educational code. As a woman who takes pride in her education, I believe that I should have every opportunity that a male student has, and to the same quality.
Title IX is one of the most important parts of our country's educational code. As a woman who takes pride in her education, I believe that I should have every opportunity that a male student has, and to the same quality. In recent years, Title IX has undergone an expansion in gender identity. As more students are becoming comfortable coming "out" with their gender identity, they are demanding their rights guaranteed to them by Title IX. Many students and their families believe that one of these rights is to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

The debate over bathroom in usage came to the forefront of the national media when the governor of North Carolina signed House Bill 2 into law, or more commonly known as "The Bathroom Bill." This bill put into place a statewide ban on people using bathrooms that do not align with their gender identity. One argument for this ban that is often used by Republicans is that men who want access to women's restrooms will just say they identify as a female, and they will be able to sexually harass women bathroom goers. An argument against this ban is that there is very little evidence that people lie about their gender identity to gain access to a restroom of the opposite sex. This counter-argument makes sense becauseā€¦.

The issue of bathroom usage is especially difficult for students who don't identify with their birth sex and often already have a hard time fitting in at school. There have been some recent successes in fighting discriminatory state and even school board policies relating to transgender bathroom usage. In Virginia, the court of appeals overruled a school board ban on a student using the bathroom that aligns with his gender identity. The plaintiff in the case, Gavin Grimm, had a very poignant statement that, "Transgender kids should not have to sue their own school boards just for the ability to sue the same restrooms as everyone else."

Grimm, recognizing his rights under Title IX, understands even as a student that schools and the government should be protecting students rather than discriminating against them and making them feel unwelcome in the education system. In North Carolina, a federal judge ruled that two transgender students and one employee can use bathrooms that align with their gender identities. However, this case only applies to the plaintiffs in this specific case, but it does set precedent for future cases. The judge even questioned the need for a law regulating which bathrooms people can use.