It hasn't been so long since Jackie Evancho made international news for singing at President Trump's inauguration. Now, it's her sister making news; Evancho's sister Juliet just won the right to use the bathroom of her gender identity at her high school in Pennsylvania. Despite the Trump Administration's recent stance against allowing transgender washroom rights to kids in schools, Juliet Evancho's win in court could mean trouble for Trump's transgender bathroom decree.
Judge Mark R. Hornak of the U.S. District Court for West Pennsylvania ruled in favor of Evancho and two other transgender teens and their right to use the washroom of their gender identity. The teens, all of them seniors in the Pine-Richland School District of Pennsylvania, had been allowed access to the restroom of their choice until last year, according to The Daily Beast, without incident. One year ago, the parent of a student reportedly complained, and the district superintendent decided to formally address the issue. According to a report by The New York Times, the school board deliberated for months before voting against allowing the students to use the facilities that aligned with their gender identities. Evancho, a minor, and Elissa Ridenour (an 18-year-old transgender student) were all asked either to use the washroom that corresponded with the sex on their birth certificate or a single-user restroom.
When Judge Hornak ruled on Monday that Evancho had a "reasonable likelihood" of eventually arguing that the washroom restriction was ultimately unconstitutional, Elissa Ridenour told The New York Times:
The past months have been incredibly stressful, and this was all so unnecessary. There was no problem before, and we are confident there will be no problem now.
Evancho's win could potentially fly directly in the fact of Trump's recent opposition to transgender washroom rights; last Wednesday, the president's administration rescinded federal protections that allowed transgender students to use the washroom of their gender identity. According the CBC, newly minted Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said:
This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities and families can find — and in many cases have found — solutions that protect all students.
Lawyers for the Pine-Richmond school district have not said whether they plan to fight the temporary injunction imposed by Judge Hornak allowing Evancho and other trans students access to the washroom of their choice.
Whether or not Evancho's case could impact Trump's transgender bathroom decision could rely on the case of 17-year-old Gavin Grimm, a trans student who has taken his fight all the way to the Supreme Court. The Gloucester, Virginia senior has been fighting for his right to use the men's room since 2015. Much like Evancho, Grimm was allowed to use the washroom of his choice initially until a parent complained a few months later, according to People. Grimm has been represented by the ACLU in his case against the school district, and arguments will be heard in his case by the Supreme Court on Mar. 28. If the Supreme Court finds in favor of Grimm, that would mean transgender students would legally have the right to use the restroom of their choice.
The cases are proof positive that there is power in conviction and the fight for simple human rights like access to a restroom where someone doesn't face harassment and intimidation.