According to the suit, the student began their freshman year of high school in 2014. They opted not to participate in sports that fall because they were still being denied access to the boys’ locker and bathrooms. In 2015, the lawsuit began after being filed by the student’s mother in Jackson County Circuit Court and was originally dismissed in 2016.
Though the student actually graduated in 2018, the suit was appealed in the Missouri Supreme Court in 2019. The year 2019 is year in the context of this case because the Missouri Supreme Court decided that year to reinstate the lawsuit after it ruled it illegal for employers to discriminate against people who don’t conform to existing gender stereotypes via the Missouri Human Rights Act.
The case was then brought to the Circuit Court, which is where the jury unanimously decided in favor of the student. “He was very excited, very happy,” Madeline Johnson, one of the attorneys who represented the former student in the suit, said about her client’s reaction to the jury’s decision, as reported by KCUR. She added that the recent college graduate felt “vindicated” by the verdict.
The award breaks down to $175,000 in compensatory damages, $4 million in punitive damages, and attorney fees.
The former student transitioned when he was 10 years old. Though the school district (obviously) wasn’t discussing the genitalia of cisgender boys, the lawsuit alleges that authorities made decisions about bathroom use for this student in particular because of their genitals. “Upon information and belief, Defendants do not speculate, inspect, or otherwise inquire as to the genitalia of other male students,” the lawsuit reads in part. “Defendants have discriminated and continue to discriminate against Plaintiff R.M.A. based on his sex.”
On an emotional level, the suit alleges that the school’s treatment made the student feel inferior to his cisgender male peers and caused him to feel isolated.
Local outlet KSHB 14 said it received a statement from a spokesperson for the school district saying: “The district disagrees with the verdict and will be seeking appropriate relief from the trial court and court of appeals if necessary.”