ACLU Files Title IX Complaint Challenging Marion County Schools' Anti-Transgender Bathroom Policy

School district passed new policy despite warnings it violated federal law; Complaint filed with US Department of Education after transgender student suspended for using men’s restroom

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
May 12, 2016 2:45 pm

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OCALA, FL The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida has filed a complaint with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights stating that the Marion County School District’s policy prohibiting transgender students from using restroom facilities consistent with their gender identities violates federal anti-discrimination law. The complaint was filed on behalf of a transgender student who was suspended for using a restroom consistent with his gender identity days after the Marion County School Board changed the district policy.

“The school district was warned that preventing transgender students from living their lives consistent with their gender identities was harmful to students and illegal,” stated Daniel Tilley, ACLU of Florida staff attorney who is representing the student. “Within days of passing their harmful anti-transgender policy, a student who has been living his life consistent with his gender identity for years is now facing disciplinary action for having done nothing other than use a school bathroom – something students do every day.”

On April 26, the Marion County School Board passed a resolution which requires transgender students to use restroom facilities consistent with the sex they are assigned at birth rather than the gender they live every day. In a letter to the school board prior to the vote, the ACLU of Florida warned that the policy would be profoundly harmful to students, would violate federal Title IX anti-discrimination requirements, and jeopardize federal funding for the school district.

Within days of the school board vote, a transgender student – whose has asked not to be named – was suspended for using the men’s restroom at school, despite having done so for years without incident. The complaint filed with the Department of Education calls for the district to be required to permit the student to use male restroom facilities on District property and remove the suspension from his disciplinary record. It also calls for the district to revise relevant district policies and update trainings to ensure compliance with Title IX.

Tilley added: “We hope that the Office of Civil Rights takes swift action to fix this situation, and that district leaders use this as an opportunity to better understand the needs of all students in their schools rather than acting out of misunderstanding, confusion and fear.”

A copy of the complaint filed today is available here:

The April 26 letter sent to the school board is available here:

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