A high school in Louisville, Ky. is allowing a male freshman student to use changing areas in a girls locker room and one of two girls bathrooms because the student wants to be a girl.
The transgender student attends Atherton High School in a tree-lined neighborhood of the city, reports The Courier-Journal.
The unidentified student was born male and is, by all accounts, still male. However, because he identifies himself as a female, he asked for and received permission from Thomas Aberli, Atherton High’s principal, to use a bathroom and a locker room marked for girls at the school.
At least seven students and around a dozen parents have complained.
Aberli has responded to criticism by announcing that he will preach about the high school’s non-discrimination policy and gender identity generally at an already-planned public meeting on Thursday at the school.
“I have a responsibility to ensure that all of our students and staff are treated fairly and justly,” the principal told The Courier-Journal. “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.”
Aberli made his controversial ruling allowing the male ninth grader to use the girls bathroom and locker room at the taxpayer-funded school approximately a month ago.
“We have two facilities for all female students to use,” the principal told Louisville’s newspaper of record. “Initially, the student was allowed to use both facilities. However, in addressing concerns raised by parents and students, I wanted to respond to those concerns, so at this time, the student is only being allowed to use one of the two restrooms.”
“Everyone deserves to be treated with respect,” he added.
Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit organization, sent a May 12 letter to local school board members explaining that there is no federal law or state law in Kentucky that obligates high schools to allow students who are not females to use the girls restroom or changing areas.
“[T]he Atherton principal’s recent decision has imperiled the safety of students and exposed Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) to liability,” the letter, obtained by The Courier Journal, states.
Clint Elliott, an attorney with the conservative civil rights group, spoke to the paper.
“What about those girls and their rights to privacy and safety? What about the First Amendment rights of all students?” he asked.
Under current district policy, discrimination and harassment of several kinds including religion, age, ethnic or national origin, sex and sexual orientation are prohibited.
Gender identity is manifestly not among the types of discrimination listed in the policy.
“Our schools have been dealing with this for years and have made individual accommodations,” school board member Linda Duncan told the Louisville paper. “This is a big issue, but we can’t just open up all of our restrooms to the opposite sex. We need to be careful so that we are protecting the rights of everyone.”