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Colorado girls claim transgender student is sexually harassing them in girls' bathroom
October 15, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
Whose rights should prevail when a transgender student is allowed to use a high school girls' bathroom and girls' locker room but other girls claim that their classmate is sexually harassing them there?
Apparently that's the situation at Florence High School in Florence, Colo. Last week, the conservative website CBN News reported that school officials told the girls that the transgender student has a right to use the girls' restroom. Those who complained were allegedly threatened with school discipline, such as being removed from athletic teams or being charged with hate crimes.
There isn't enough information available about the actual situation to say who's actually at fault. There is no description of exactly what the transgender student, born male but feeling like a girl, did that the girls thought was "harassment." There is no information about what the girls might have said or done to the transgender student or whether the girls' reactions are fueled by dislike of the entire situation. Their parents have claimed that the girls' privacy is being violated.
The conservative Pacific Justice Institute, which sent a letter to the school asking the school to respect the girls' right to freedom of speech and their privacy rights, asserts that the transgender student sometimes uses the boys' bathroom instead of the girls' bathroom and doesn't always consistently identify as either male or female. In response to the girls' concern, the administrators allegedly suggested that the girls avoid using the girls' locker room and instead use a staff bathroom that is inconveniently located and is locked during some of the after school activities the girls take part in, according to the letter sent by Pacific Justice Institute. The letter, placed on its website by BizPac Review, can be seen at this link: http://www.bizpacreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/PJI_letter_to_FHS_10-1.10.13.pdf
The superintendent of the school has reportedly said the story is false, according to a blog at The Transadvocate.com Media Matters further reports, based on the Transadvocate.com interview with the superintendent, that the superintendent claims one disgruntled parent took his or her complaints to the media after not getting the response he or she wanted from school administrators. The school has not actually verified that there is any truth to the allegations that have been made. However, the Oct. 10 letter from the Pacific Justice Institute gave the school five days to refute the allegations made in the letter. I have not seen the school's letter in response. It would be interesting to see all the facts laid out.
Without knowing more, I'd be inclined to say that any kid who is bullying another should be appropriately disciplined by the school and hopefully by their parents as well. That would apply to the transgender student as well as to any of the girls who have behaved inappropriately. No kid should be disciplined for respectfully objecting to this state of affairs.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled last summer that a first-grade transgender child, born a boy, must be allowed to use the girls' bathroom at a school elsewhere in the state. I would assume that the actions taken by administrators at Florence High School are in response to that ruling. But school administrators also have to respect the rights of other students.
The Pacific Justice Institute posted an updated press release on its website on Thursday. Their main objection continues to be that the transgender student is permitted to use girls' bathrooms at the school, which they say is a violation of the girls' privacy rights. Their allegation of sexual harassment by the transgender student appears to be on far shakier ground, judging by the press release and their statements to the media. However, they said the school administration has not yet identified any factual allegations in the letter sent by Pacific Justice Institute that Florence High School administrators consider to be disputed.
“Transgender activists are in full damage control mode because they know how explosive and damaging to their cause this story is,” noted Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, in the press release. “The central issue in this case—a high school’s decision to give a biological teenage boy full access to teenage girls’ bathrooms is both disturbing and not seriously disputed. It is very revealing that the Superintendent is seeking sympathy from transgender activists instead of addressing the serious concerns raised in our letter.”
The Pacific Justice Institute has asked for a detailed response to its letter by the end of the week.
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