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‘Schools therefore cannot segregate students based on sexual orientation’
AUGUSTA, Maine – A lawyer for the Maine Human Rights Commission told members of the state board today that requiring all students to use “biology-based” restrooms and locker rooms in the state’s schools is illegal and cannot be allowed to continue.
“Schools cannot discriminate against sexual identity or gender identification. Schools therefore cannot segregate students based on sexual orientation and identity,” commission legal counsel John Gause said at today’s commission meeting, where he was unsuccessful in convincing the board to adopt immediately a set of recommendations.
The commission’s vote was 4-1 to hold a public hearing on the adoption of guidelines that would allow biological males to play on girls’ athletic teams and use girls’ restrooms and locker rooms if they proclaim their gender identity is female.
Today’s public meeting was held before a capacity crowd in the main meeting room of the Senator Hotel in Augusta, Maine. The crowd was divided evenly between opponents and supporters of the proposed guidelines for students who have gender identity issues.
“The way I understand it, a student who believes he or she is of a different sex has the right to use the bathroom of the sex with which he identifies. What effect will it have on a student who is of one biological sex and is in the bathroom and a biological person of the opposite sex who identifies with the opposite sex comes in?” Fredette asked.
The proposed guideline:
Transgender students must be allowed access to bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity or expression or, if they prefer, to existing single stall bathrooms.
With respect to locker rooms and shower facilities that involve undressing in front of others, transgender students must be provided with accommodations that meet their needs and that take into account the legitimate privacy concerns of all student involved.
The public hearing is expected to be set up sometime in April or May.
A lobbyist for a homosexual organization earlier argued “an anatomy or biology-based rule for bathroom usage cannot be used to bar transgender students from using a facility consistent with their gender identity.”
The current push apparently started over the commission decision last year that found a school in Orono, Asa Adams School, discriminated against a boy by denying him access to the girls’ restroom.
The ripples from the ruling now are being felt. According to documents obtained in the state, the University of Maine already is expressing alarm.
A letter from the university office of equal opportunity noted, “There will likely be cases in which allowing a transgender student to participate in gender-segregated sports in accordance with the gender identity or expression will raise legitimate concerns about fairness in competitive interscholastic sports. …”
The letter pointed out “unintended consequences,” such as “a transgendered individual’s participation on a gender-segregated team could result in the NCAA’s treating that team as a mixed team. This would have a number of serious consequences including potentially impacting the institution’s compliance with Title IX.”
Currently, Colorado, Iowa, Washington state, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco have rules, policies or laws dealing with transgender restroom accommodations. The Maine rules would make Maine the first state in the U.S. to adopt the policies for elementary and secondary school students and the first to extend the rules to private and sectarian schools.
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