LOUISVILLE – Following a request from a ‘transgender’ student, a Kentucky high school has approved a new non-discrimination policy which will give male students access to girls’ restrooms, and vice versa, as long as students identify with the opposite sex.
Last month, a freshman student at Atherton High School in Louisville, Kentucky, asked the school’s principal if he could use the girls’ restroom and locker room. The student claimed to be transgender and said he identified as a girl, even though he reportedly has a girlfriend.
According to reports, the high school’s principal, Thomas Aberli, granted the student’s request. This decision prompted complaints from several parents and students who were concerned about a male student using the girls’ facilities.
In spite of the complaints, Aberli defended his decision, saying “everyone deserves to be treated with respect.”
“I have a responsibility to ensure that all of our students and staff are treated fairly and justly,” Aberli told The Courier-Journal last week. “At the same time, I also have a responsibility to educate our community on an issue that many are not familiar with and inform them about the rights of transgender individuals.”
Other individuals in the Louisville area criticized the principal’s decision. Clint Elliott, a Louisville attorney, said parents are concerned about the situation.
“Imagine this scenario—a transgender student, a biological boy who decides that he wants to identify with the female gender, and yet he acknowledges that he has a girlfriend and is sexually attracted to girls,” Elliott said, as reported by The Courier-Journal. “Are parents supposed to be okay with allowing such boys to use the girls’ restroom and locker room facilities?”
“[This is] a violation of parents’ rights regarding the oversight of their children and educational environment of their children and it is certainly a violation of a student’s rights to privacy,” Elliot added. “What about those girls and their rights to privacy and safety? What about the First Amendment rights of all students?”
In a public meeting on Thursday, the Atherton High School council approved a districtwide policy which bars any discrimination on the basis of “gender identity.” Though it does not specifically address the principal’s controversial decision, the policy will most likely allow transgender students to use the facilities of the opposite sex.
Some local students and parents expressed support for the non-discrimination policy.
“Just because someone has a male body, doesn’t mean that person is male,” one person told the school council.
However, many parents said the council’s decision was troubling.
“The concerns of one student are being given more weight and legitimacy than the concerns of many other members of Atherton,” said David Kelty, parent of a ninth-grade student in the school.
Meanwhile, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) threatened to pursue legal action if the non-discrimination policy goes into effect. In a letter to the governing board members of Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), ADF spokespersons argued that Atherton High School should not make restrooms available to both sexes.
“Not only may JCPS prevent students from accessing opposite-sex restrooms and changing areas, JCPS should do so to avoid violating the rights of JCPS students and parents,” the letter states. “With respect to JCPS students, they have the right to bodily privacy.”
“Permitting students to use opposite-sex restrooms and changing areas would seriously endanger student safety, undermine parental authority, and severely impair an environment conducive to learning,” the letter continues. “These dangers are so clear-cut that a school district allowing such activity would clearly expose itself—and its teachers—to tort liability.”
The school’s controversial policy will receive a second hearing before going into effect.