Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Round-up: Gender and locker room/bathroom policies

  • Counsel for a Virginia high school student seeking an injunction against and rescinding of the Gloucester County school board's bathroom policy that requires transgender students to use separate, private bathrooms has asked the appellate court to reconsider the dismissal of the Title IX claim in the case. As we wrote about over the summer, the judge in this case made comments from the bench that gave the impression that he had already made up his mind in this case as well as providing a lengthy non-sequitur, and not allowing experts from the justice department to testify. The ACLU lawyers representing student Gavin Grimm, a high school junior, want Judge Doumar to consider Title IX when ruling about the school board's policy. An equal protection claim stills exists, but Doumar's rants about transgender as a mental disorder make me wonder how long that one will persist and/or what kind of fair hearing can result. Apparently Grimm's lawyers are concerned as well. It appears that, in addition to the Title IX appeal, Grimm's lawyers are asking for a new judge to be appointed to the case. They cite his suspicions around modern science and gender identity and his repeated use of the term mental disorder in describing people who are transgender.  
  • Erin recently wrote about OCR's order that an Illinois School District allow a transgender student use all the facilities (restrooms, locker rooms) in accordance with her gender of identity. This piece offers more of the back story of that situation, with more information coming from the girl's mother and her daughter's experiences. 
  • Another personal story of a transgender child's school experience has become a book. Nicole Maines who, with her family and a team of GLAD lawyers and advocates, successfully challenged restrictions on her bathroom use, is the subject of a book by journalist Amy Ellis Nutt. Parents, Wayne and Kelly Maines, and Nutt were on Fresh Air last month talking about their family and the book. 
  • Nebraska, one of the 14 states with no policy regarding the participation of transgender children in interscholastic sports (according to Trans* Athlete), is raising the issue. The Nebraska School Activities Association continues to work towards a policy and it has many voices whispering in its ears--including parochial schools which want participation to be based on gender listed on a birth certificate. As in other states where this issue is being discussed by state activities boards, conservative Christian groups have been quite vocal in their opposition to transgender students using restroom and locker room facilities in accordance with their gender of identity. The Nebraska Catholic Conference and Nebraska Family Alliance say the gender by birth certificate is the best policy for all students and believe that more liberal policies are the result of fear of litigation. Those making decisions are right to be afraid of litigation should they institute such a policy. Cases across the country--never mind the federal government's weighing in on the issue--affirm that students should be allowed to use single-sex facilities in accordance with their gender of identity. While this seems to be about sports, it is really about locker rooms. The groups in opposition are far more concerned with where children are changing clothes and peeing and less about where they are playing soccer. This has been evident in cases in Minnesota and Montana where "family values" groups have taken out ads and used various scare tactics invoking molestation and sexual assault to prevent transgender children from using bathrooms and locker rooms based on gender identity. 
  • Some of the same Catholic groups are none too happy with new Health and Human Service proposal that would prohibit discrimination in the delivery of health care services to transgender patients. This is basically, from what I read, a Title IX-esque approach to sex discrimination that explicitly protects against discrimination faced by transgender individuals. But, as noted above, these groups are not happy with the government's interpretation of sex discrimination to include gender, an interpretation of Title IX that has allowed transgender children to enter bathrooms, for example, based on their gender of identity. They see the Obama administration's support of Title IX's application to transgender people as dangerously contagious now that HHS has adopted a similar interpretation.
  • In New York state, a parent concerned that a transgender boy has been using the boys' locker room called the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian advocacy group that is raising concerns about the HHS policy. The group sent a letter to the school in Leroy, New York stating that it is misinterpreting Title IX because  " Title IX specifically authorizes schools to maintain separate facilities." Not exactly. The student in question is not named, but apparently is doing fine--as are most other students. Apparently there is a welcoming attitude in Genesee County.