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Bathroom Wars

  • Drew Adams is girl who thinks she’s a boy and wants to use the boys’ bathroom, in violation of both reason and school policy.
  • Nease High School has made accommodations for the few students who are confused about their biology, but that is not good enough for Ms. Adams.
  • Adams claims the school is violating both the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and Title IX. However, it is she who is attempting to violate both.


We’re always told to live and let live, but things don’t seem to work out that way. Take, for example, the transgender movement’s insistence that everyone else ignore what is physically true and pander to their psychosis. Such is the situation with the case Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County, FL. Drew Adams is a minor girl pretending to be a boy. Even though the St. Johns County School Board has made accommodations for Ms. Adam's delusions, she’s still not happy. She wants to use the boys’ bathroom, rather than the sex neutral bathrooms that were specifically set aside for the very few confused students. She is so insistent that she, through her mother, sued the school district in federal court. This case has made it all the way to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Why does it always seem that live and let live turns into do it my way or else? It happened with the same-sex marriage movement, and it’s happening again with the transgender movement. The case of Drew Adams vs. School Board of St. Johns County is a perfect example.

This case involves the unremarkable—and nearly universal—practice of separating school bathrooms based on biological sex. This appeal requires us to determine whether separating the use of male and female bathrooms in the public schools based on a students biological sex violates (1) the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1, and (2) Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. We hold that it does not—separating school bathrooms based on biological sex passes constitutional muster and comports with Title IX.

Drew Adams v. School Board Of St. Johns County, Florida


Let’s start by getting some background on this case.

Plaintiff-Appellee, Drew Adams, is a transgender boy. This means that Adams identifies as male, while Adamss biological sex—sex based on chromosomal structure and anatomy at birth— is female. Adams entered the School District in the fourth grade as a biological female and identified as a female. At the end of eighth grade, however, Adams began identifying and living as a boy. For example, Adams dressed in boysclothing and wore a chest binder” to flatten breast tissue. Most pertinently for this appeal, Adams adopted the male pronouns he” and him” and began using the male bathroom in public.

Drew Adams v. School Board Of St. Johns County, Florida

So, Drew is a girl who “identifies” as a boy. Have you heard the questions “How many legs does a dog have if you count the tail as a leg?” The answer is four, because calling the tail a leg doesn’t make it one. Calling a person with two X chromosomes a boy, dressing them like a boy, and giving them a boy’s name, doesn’t make them a boy.

In August 2015, Adams entered ninth grade at Allen D. Nease High School (Nease”) within the School District. Nease provides female, male, and sex-neutral bathrooms for its 2,450 students. The communal female bathrooms have stalls, and the communal male bathrooms have stalls and undivided urinals. In addition to performing bodily functions in the communal bathrooms, students engage in other activities, like changing their clothes, in those spaces. Single-stall, sex-neutral bathrooms are provided to accommodate any student, including the approximately five transgender students at Nease, who prefer not to use the bathrooms that correspond with their biological sex. The bathrooms at Nease are ordinarily unsupervised.

The School Board, like many others, maintains a longstanding, unwritten bathroom policy under which male students must use the male bathroom and female students must use the female bathroom. For purposes of this policy, the School Board distinguishes between boys and girls on the basis of biological sex— which the School Board determines by reference to various documents, including birth certificates, that students submit when they first enroll in the School District. The School Board does not accept updates to studentsenrollment documents to conform with their gender identities.

Drew Adams v. School Board Of St. Johns County, Florida

Like every school I have ever been in, Nease High School has male and female bathrooms. The boys use the boys’ room, and the girls use the girls’ room. Nease high school has gone the extra mile and created single-stall, sex-neutral bathrooms for those of you who do not want to use the single-sex bathroom of their sex. This seems, to me, to be a perfectly reasonable compromise, not between the school and transgender students, but between the non-transgender students and the transgender students. You don’t have to look at ours, and we don’t have to look at yours.

According to the School Board, the bathroom policy addresses concerns about the privacy, safety, and welfare of students pursuant to the School Boards duties under the governing Florida statute. In line with these concerns, the parties specified the following in their joint pretrial statement:

The parties stipulate that certain parents of students and students in the St. Johns County School District object to a policy or practice that would allow students to use a bathroom that matches their gender identity as opposed to their sex assigned at birth. These individuals believe that such a practice would violate the bodily privacy rights of students and raise privacy, safety and welfare concerns.

Drew Adams v. School Board Of St. Johns County, Florida

Contrary to this judge, your sex isn’t “assigned” at birth, but determined at conception. That’s just basic biology.

Both sides agree that there are students and parents who are not comfortable with people using the bathrooms for the opposite sex. With all the focus on the confused transgender, it seems people forget that the vast majority of people are concerned for the rights and safety of those, especially the girls, who are often forced to share bathrooms and locker rooms with the opposite sex.

Which brings us to this lawsuit.

On June 28, 2017, after Adamss efforts to change the School Boards bathroom policy failed, Adams filed suit against the School Board under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that its bathroom policy violated both the Equal Protection Clause and Title IX.

Drew Adams v. School Board Of St. Johns County, Florida

After unsuccessfully trying to change the school policy, the Adams family tried to get the courts to force the school district to not only ignore reality but place the physical and emotional safety of the vast majority of their students under the control of a confused teenager.

The Equal Protection Clause

First, let’s look at the question of a violation of the Equal Protection Clause from the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Equal Protection Clause provides that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. The Equal Protection Clause is essentially a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike,” …, and simply keeps governmental decisionmakers from treating differently persons who are in all relevant respects alike,”

Drew Adams v. School Board Of St. Johns County, Florida

Does the school’s bathroom policy deny Ms. Adams the equal protection of the law? For that to be true, you must believe the fiction that she became a boy simply by saying so. You must also ignore the fact that she has female anatomy and genetics. Quite the contrary, it is Ms. Adams who wishes to deny the equal protect of the law regarding single-sex bathrooms to everyone else. Thankfully the court agreed.

Adams claims to be similarly situated to biological boys in the School District for purposes of the bathroom policy, even though Adams is not biologically male—the only characteristic on which the policy is based. Throughout the pendency of this case, Adams remained both biologically and anatomically identical to biological females—not males. Thus, in prohibiting Adams from using the male bathrooms, it can be argued that the School Board did not treat differently persons who are in all relevant respects alike” for purposes of the Equal Protection Clause.

To argue otherwise, the dissent, like the district court, must assert that transgender status and gender identity are equivalent to biological sex. Indeed, this forms the foundation of the dissents attempt to frame this case not as a case about the constitutionality and legality of separating bathrooms based on biological sex but rather as a case about the purported unlawfulness of excluding Adams—who attended school as a biological female—from using the male bathroom because, as the dissent claims, Adams is a boy for purposes of the bathroom policy.

Drew Adams v. School Board Of St. Johns County, Florida

Title IX

What about the Title IX question?

Title IX was passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972 and patterned after” the Civil Rights Act of 1964. …. The statute mandates that, subject to certain exceptions: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance….”

Drew Adams v. School Board Of St. Johns County, Florida

Title IX was created specifically to protect females in sports. To make sure they had a chance to compete against those of similar biology, have safe places to train, change, and yes, use the bathroom.

Notwithstanding Title IXs general prohibition on sex discrimination, the statute provides an express carve-out with respect to living facilities: nothing contained [in Chapter 38] shall be construed to prohibit any educational institution receiving funds under this Act, from maintaining separate living facilities for the different sexes.”

Drew Adams v. School Board Of St. Johns County, Florida

Once again, we see it wasn’t the school that was trying to violate Title IX, it was Ms. Adams.

To interpret sex” within the meaning of Title IX, we look to the ordinary meaning of the word when it was enacted in 1972. … One of the methods of determining the ordinary meaning of a word is by looking at dictionaries in existence around the time of enactment.” … Reputable dictionary definitions of sex” from the time of Title IXs enactment show that when Congress prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex” in education, it meant biological sex, i.e., discrimination between males and females.

Drew Adams v. School Board Of St. Johns County, Florida

It truly takes some linguistic gymnastics to interpret “sex” in the meaning of Title IX to mean a mental disorder and an inability to recognize the basic facts of human biology.


The Circuit Court looked at the decision from the district, along with the questions about the Equal Protection Clause and Title IX, and came to the quite reasonable conclusion that, having single-sex bathrooms based on biology is not discriminatory. Personally, I would have gone a step farther and said that Ms. Adams’s request was the truly discriminatory act here, since she wished to deny to the 2,445 students in Nease High School the opportunity to use a single-sex bathroom to fulfill the delusions of the other five. In fact, she wanted to effectively re-write basic human biology to accommodate her delusion, rather than comply with what I can only describe is a quite reasonable accommodation offered by the school, individual sex-neutral bathrooms.

This lawsuit, which may not be over, is just the latest in the war against reason, morality, and common sense that has been sweeping across this nation. Some may be offended by me referring to the plaintiff as Ms. Adams. All I can say is, the most caring thing I can do for Ms. Adams is not enable her in her delusion. If she wants to dress like a boy, I won’t try to stop her, but when she expects the world to warp around her delusion, she needs mental help. Whether this case is over or not, there are bound to be more cases, not to mention more situations, where the deluded attempt to impose their delusions on others. I can only hope that some sanity will appear and the American people, on both sides of this debate, can learn to live and let live.

Paul Engel is an Affiliate of Institute on the Constitution. He founded The Constitution Study in 2014 to help everyday Americans read and study the Constitution. Author and speaker, Paul has spent more than 20 years studying and teaching about both the Bible and the U.S. Constitution. Freely admitting that he “learned more about our Constitution from School House Rock than in 12 years of public school” he proves that anyone can be a constitutional scholar. You can find his books on the Institute on the Constitution Store (, Amazon, and Apple Books. You can also listen to his weekday radio show on America Out Loud ( You can reach him at