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Federal lawsuit filed on behalf of transgender Maryland boy

A federal lawsuit was filed Tuesday against an Eastern Shore school system on behalf of a 14-year-old transgender boy who wants to use the locker rooms consistent with his gender identity.

FreeState Justice has filed a federal lawsuit against Talbot County, saying that it is violating Title lX, the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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The boy, who was not identified in the lawsuit, will be a ninth grader at St. Michaels Middle-High School, and wants to try out for soccer in August, according to Jer Welter, FreeState Justice's deputy director and managing attorney.

During last school year, the boy used a gender neutral restroom far from the gym and his classrooms, Welter said. "This has been a problem. It is stigmatizing for him. It marks him as different from the other students," Welter said.

In other ways, the school has been accommodating, Welter said. During seventh grade, as he transitioned, the school used the correct pronoun to refer to him, and allowed him to use his chosen name. Students at the school have been generally supportive as well, he said.

After a ruling by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit gave a transgender boy in Virginia the right to use a restroom, Talbot County allowed the St. Michaels student to use the boys' restroom, but said the ruling did not apply to locker rooms.

The U.S. Department of Education also gave guidance to school systems in May saying they must allow transgender students to use the facilities consistent with their gender identity.

The Talbot County Board of Education's attorney was not available for comment.

FreeState Justice is a social justice organization, formed through the recent merger of Maryland LGBTQ advocacy organizations FreeState Legal and Equality Maryland.

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