Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Oregon schools risk lawsuits over transgender kids and bathrooms, lawyers warn | OregonLive.com

Oregon schools risk lawsuits over transgender kids and bathrooms, lawyers warn | OregonLive.com:

Oregon schools risk lawsuits over transgender kids and bathrooms, lawyers warn


In the months since Dallas School District leaders agreed to allow a transgender student to use the boys bathroom, parents in the rural Oregon community have prayed and protested.
Tuesday night, in front of a crowd of 250, the school board invited lawyers to explain publicly. What would happen, board members asked, if they barred transgender students from using the bathrooms they want to use?
You will be sued, lawyers from Salem-based Garrett Hemann Robertson said, as a district and perhaps as individuals. You will spend six figures fighting it -- hundreds of thousands of dollars that should be spent in classrooms.
And you will lose.
"There is real liability," said attorney Paul Dakopolos, "in not following the law."
Districts across the country, including many in Oregon, have wrestled over decisions about which locker rooms and lavatories transgender students should use. Oregon Department of Education officials plan to issue rules on the issue next month. In Dallas, a town of 15,000 30 minutes west of Salem, the debate began last fall when a transgender student asked to use the boys locker room.
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District administrators spent "countless hours," board chair Lu Ann Meyer said Tuesday night, calling lawyers and other districts. Lawyers told Dallas board members that enforcement of federal Title IX regulations had changed "significantly" in recent years: The law passed in 1972 to ensure women had equal access to education now protects transgender students from discrimination.
Dallas administrators agreed to let the 14-year-old freshman begin using the boys locker room in November.
Parents and students packed a December meeting to complain. Students signed petitions protesting the policy. A few asked to be removed from the transgender student's PE class. Parents met for prayer sessions, asking God to help board members change their mind. They did their own research, reading court decisions from across the country about transgender students. The law didn't seem so clear to them.
It's true, Dakopolos said Tuesday night, that courts have issued conflicting verdicts. In Virginia, a U.S. District Court district court judge ruled that a transgender teenager did not have the right to file an injunction under Title IX.
"I think it's important as we throw around case law tonight to remember that Oregon schools risk lawsuits over transgender kids and bathrooms, lawyers warn | OregonLive.com:

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