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Appeals court reverses decision in Ponte Vedra high school transgender bathroom case

Drew Adams sued in 2017 after Nease High refused to let him use the boys' bathroom. He won his case, but an appeals court has now ruled in favor of the school.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the St. Johns County School Board in a 5-year-old case, saying its bathroom policy does not violate the Constitution.

The case was brought by Drew Adams, a transgender former student at Nease High School. He sued the Ponte Vedra school after he was prohibited from using the boys' bathroom, and was instead required to use a gender-neutral bathroom or the girls' bathroom.

He won his case in federal court in 2018, and he won on appeal, before a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court, which said the district violated his civil rights. But the district asked the case be re-heard by the full court, and was granted an en banc hearing before the full panel of 11 judges.

In a 7-4 decision, the court ruled that Nease did not violate Adams' civil rights by requiring him to use a bathroom that corresponded to his biological sex.

Adams, who has the support of 22 states and is represented by the Department of Justice, could choose to appeal to the U.S Supreme Court. Because other appellate courts have found similar policies unconstitutional, the high court could be inclined to take the case to resolve the matter. 

Adams has not said if he intends to appeal. In a statement, SJC Schools Superintendent Tim Forson said, “We are pleased with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal decision in the Drew Adams’ case. The court's opinion was supported by sound legal reasoning and common sense. Under this decision, the district will be able to protect all students' rights. I commend our legal team at Sniffen & Spellman, P.A. on their tireless efforts and our School Board for their leadership.”

Drew Adams declined to comment.


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