Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, has written Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge asking them to follow the law on transgender students.
Simply, they are protected from discrimination on account of their gender identity and this should include access to restrooms that align with their identity. Both Hutchinson and Rutledge have previously dismissed President Obama’s reminder that law, court precedent and regulations spell out equal treatment of transgender people.
“The law has been established for years that barring a student from single-sex facilities or activities based on that student’s gender identity because he or she is transgender constitutes sex discrimination in violation of Title IX,” said Sklar in the letter. “It is per se sex discrimination because this differential treatment is based on the student’s gender transition; it is also impermissible sex stereotyping because the student is being denied access based on a failure to conform to gender stereotypes.”
Hutchinson and Rutledge have urged schools to ignore guidelines noted by President Obama. Responsible school people in Arkansas have said they have made and will continue to make accommodations for the small number of transgender students. UALR and UA leaders have both forthrightly said they observe non-discrimination policies. The ACLU release continued:
“Arkansas schools have been working to accommodate transgender students for years,” said Sklar, “sometimes with guidance from the ACLU of Arkansas on the law. These statements from government leaders only confuse the issue, make schools subject to liability, and, most importantly, counteract the need to protect transgender students from further marginalization and susceptibility to bullying.”
The Department of Education and the Department of Justice released comprehensive guidance on how Title IX protects transgender youth from discrimination and harm in schools. The DOE also compiled examples of good policies and practices that schools across the country are already using.
I’ve asked both the governor’s and attorney general’s office if they’d like to repeat past repudiation of Obama’s guidance.