At a school board meeting in January 2022, Bethel Local School District Board of Education members announced that, consistent with legal advice from the District’s attorney and pursuant to Title IX off the Education Amendments of 1972, transgender students were now allowed to use the communal restroom consistent with their gender identity. Some members of the community objected to this change in policy and believe that allowing transgender students into the communal restroom of their gender violates their religious freedom.


A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy which courts grant only on the careful balancing of four relevant factors. Two of those factors are whether the injunction would harm others, and whether the injunction best serves the public interest. Anne Roe would be harmed by a preliminary injunction order that prevented her from accessing the girl's communal restroom. Similarly, the public has an interest in preventing discrimination against and providing equal education opportunities for all students. We are intervening in this lawsuit on Anne Roe's behalf to defend the interests of her and other similarly situated students.


This lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio by a group of parents and students in the Bethel Local School District on November 22, 2022. On December 2, 2022, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction requesting that the Court require the school to revoke permission for transgender students to use the communal restroom consistent with their gender identity, on the basis that the school had violated the Ohio Open Meetings Act in enacting a purported “policy” allowing them to do so.

On January 9, we filed a Motion to Intervene on behalf of “Anne Roe,” a transgender student at Bethel High School. We also moved to file instanter a brief in opposition to the Motion for Preliminary Injunction. The proposed brief explains that Anne Roe would be directly harmed by an injunction barring her from the girls’ communal restroom, and that the plaintiffs’ requested injunction would not be in the public interest. On January 9, Defendants also filed their opposition to the preliminary injunction motion. The Court ordered expedited briefing on our motion to intervene and leave to file instanter memorandum in opposition to Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction. On January 13, the plaintiffs filed their response, stating that they do not object to Anne Roe’s intervention in the case. Responses to the Complaint are due on January 27. Plaintiffs’ reply in support of the preliminary injunction is due January 23. A preliminary injunction hearing was held on February 7 in Dayton.

Just before the hearing, the school board defendants filed a motion in limine requesting that a declaration from a former school board member which had been filed with Plaintiffs’ PI reply, be stricken from the record. Plaintiffs filed their opposition on February 17, and Defendants filed their reply on February 22. Following the PI hearing, the Court ordered briefing on the issue of Plaintiffs’ standing to assert their federal law claims. Plaintiffs’ brief on this issue was filed on February 17, Defendants' and Defendant-intervenor’s responses were filed on February 27. Plaintiffs’ reply was filed on March 6.

The Court became aware of a contemporaneous state common pleas case against defendants on the same Open Meetings Law facts, and on March 3, ordered briefing on whether adjudication of the state law claims should be stayed while that case proceeds. All three parties submitted briefing on March 17. Plaintiffs filed a supplemental brief on March 27.

On March 24, we filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction and Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Defendants also filed a Motion to Dismiss and for Judgment on the Pleadings on April 12. Plaintiffs filed their responses on April 17 and April 26, and briefing concluded with replies on May 1 and 3.

On May 9, the parties conducted oral argument on the pending motions to dismiss, including whether these motions need to be resolved before ruling on the preliminary injunction. We now await decisions on our dispositive motion, the school’s dispositive motion, and the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction.

Anne Roe decided not to return to Bethel High School for the 2023-24 school year and instead to take online classes. No longer spending her days in the school building means she no longer would have standing to vindicate her rights in this case. So, on August 2, we filed a motion to withdraw her from the case.

Five days later, on August 7, the Court issued a decision on the pending motions to dismiss, granting judgment in Anne’s and the Defendants’ favor on all counts. Among other rulings, it held that the school district’s allowing Anne to use the restroom matching her gender identity did not violate the Plaintiffs’ fundamental parenting rights, right to equal protection, or right to free exercise of their religion.

On September 5, Plaintiffs appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. As the district court had not granted Anne’s motion to withdraw, on September 25, 2023, we filed a motion for Anne Roe to be dismissed as a party from the appeal. Per the Court’s January 5 briefing order, Appellants’ brief was filed on February 14, and several amicus briefs in support of Appellants were filed on February 21. The Court granted Anne's motion to withdraw as a party on March 14. Appellees' brief is due on May 13, 2024.


David Carey, Freda Levenson, Malita Picasso, Aditi Fruitwala, Rose Saxe

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff, LLP

Date filed

January 9, 2023


U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio


Michael J. Newman



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