SBC, other groups say school restroom use should be determined by biological sex

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) joined Catholic, Jewish, Mormon and other religious groups in a recent brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision allowing transgender students in public schools to use the restroom of their choice instead of the one corresponding to their biological sex at birth.

The Jan. 10 amicus brief by groups including the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission claims the Obama administration’s interpretation of laws banning discrimination on the basis of sex has potentially “serious conflicts with religious liberty.”

The brief asks the Supreme Court to reverse a 2016 decision by the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a Virginia school district unlawfully discriminated against a transgender student by barring him access to the boy’s restroom at his high school.

The appellate court agreed with the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX, a federal law barring discrimination on the basis of sex, in a letter advising that when a school elects to separate or treat students differently on the basis of sex, it “generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.”

The religious organizations say unilaterally declaring “sex” to mean “gender identity” in regulations accompanying education funding will create political pressure to apply the same standard to laws that bar discrimination in employment and housing.

If that happens, the brief argues, religious colleges and universities would have problems maintaining sex-specific dormitories and such. It would “also cast doubt on the authority of religious employers to govern their workplaces” if they establish religious standards as conditions of employment. (BNG)