A judge has overturned a jury verdict that would have forced a Missouri school district to pay $4 million to a transgender student over access to bathrooms and other gender-designated facilities.
The case stems from a 2015 lawsuit alleging that the Blue Springs R-IV School District near Kansas City discriminated against the transgender student, identified in the suit as “R.M.A.,” a biological female identifying as male.
The alleged discrimination happened while the student was in middle and high school, when the district denied R.M.A. access to male-designated bathrooms and locker rooms, instead providing access to single-person, unisex bathrooms, according to court documents.
The case was dismissed in 2016, but the Missouri Supreme Court vacated the dismissal in 2019 and returned the case to circuit court. In December, a jury decided in favor of the former student, awarding $4.2 million.
But in late May, Circuit Judge Cory L. Atkins threw out the December verdict, ruling the plaintiff’s attorneys failed to prove the bathroom policies were based on the student’s male sex. Rather, the judge wrote, “The sole, uncontradicted evidence at trial was that Plaintiff was excluded from the male facilities because of his female genitalia.”
The ruling sets up a new trial.
According to court documents, R.M.A. initially “transitioned” to male as a fourth grader in 2009. The following year the child’s given name was legally changed, and in 2014 the gender on R.M.A.’s birth certificate was changed to “male.”