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Federal judge to hear transgender case, international robotics event & teachers sue over union dues: 5 things to know today

| Monday, July 17, 2017, 11:54 a.m.
Afghanistan team member Lisa Azizi troubleshoots the team's robot entry prior to the opening ceremony for the FIRST Global Challenge in Washington, Sunday, July 16, 2017. They will be competing against entrants from more than 150 countries in the international competition. It's the first annual robotics competition designed to encourage youths to pursue careers in math and science. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Happy Monday, everyone!

I can't believe we are already halfway through the summer. The education team is busy working on a series of stories that will run as students return to school in August. If you have any ideas or issues you'd like to see covered, make sure to email us at

In the meantime, here are five things to know about education today:

1. FEDERAL JUDGE TO HEAR TRANSGENDER CASE: A federal judge in eastern Pennsylvania is set to hear a lawsuit by students who say a school district's transgender locker room policy violates their privacy and amounts to sexual harassment.

The topic of transgender rights in schools has come up locally in the Norwin and Pine-Richland school districts.

2. INTERNATIONAL ROBOTICS EVENT: Students from around the world gathered Sunday to kick off the FIRST Global international robot olympics for high school students at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. The competition runs through Tuesday and includes nearly 160 national teams that are competing in challenges designed to find solutions to global issues.

The all-girls team from Afghanistan made headlines last week when they had trouble entering the United States. The team was twice rejected for U.S. visas. They arrived in Washington early Saturday after President Donald Trump's last-minute intervention to sidestep the visa system.

3. HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT TO STUDY ABROAD: Fox Chapel Area student Katie Teele, 16, will spend next year studying in the Philippines . She won a Youth Exchange and Study Abroad scholarship to live with a host family and study in the Southeast Asian country. She is among 60 students from across the country to win the scholarship from the U.S. Department of State.

4. COLLEGE CREATES SOCIAL MEDIA MAJOR: Students can major in social media at Kutztown University starting this fall, reports Lehigh Valley Live . The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors approved the creation of the bachelor's degree last week and Kutztown is already accepting applications for the program, according to news releases from the system and university.

5. TEACHERS FILE LAWSUIT OVER UNION DUES: Four Pennsylvania teachers hope their concerns about forced union dues are heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, The Fairness Center announced Monday.

The nation's highest court could decide whether to consider Janus vs. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The suit seeks to overturn the 40-year-old ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which allowed public sector unions to force public employees to pay the union as a condition of employment.

In a similar case filed in January in federal court, Greg Hartnett of Homer-Center School District, Elizabeth Galaska of Twin Valley School District, and Rob Brough and John Cress of Ellwood City Area School District sued the Pennsylvania State Education Association to end compulsory union fees as a requirement of their jobs.

The teachers and the Fairness Center have signed an amicus brief led by the Pacific Legal Foundation urging the high court to hear the case.

Don't forget to follow the TribLIVE Education Team on Twitter:

• Emily Balser @emilybalser (Valley News Dispatch newsroom)

• Debra Erdley @deberdley_trib (Greensburg newsroom)

• Natasha Lindstrom @NewsNatasha (Pittsburgh newsroom)

• Jamie Martines @Jamie_Martines (Greensburg newsroom)

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