ACLU files federal complaint on behalf of transgender PTEC student denied bathroom access

7:30 PM, Sep 17, 2013   |    comments
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Largo, Florida -- The ACLU has filed a federal complaint on behalf of Alex Wilson, a 25-year-old nursing student who says she was banned from the bathroom at Pinellas Technical Education Centers after administrators discovered she's a transgender woman.

Wilson has been living as a woman for the past four years and is currently undergoing gender transition. Wilson's been enrolled at PTEC since November 2012. She is identified as a female on her Florida driver's license and in the records of the Social Security Administration.

On July 8, 2013, having become aware that Alex is transgender, school officials informed her that she was no longer allowed to use the school's women's restrooms nor would she be allowed to use the general men's restrooms, instead requiring her to use segregated facilities.

PREVIOUS STORY: Transgender student denied access to bathroom

After being told she could not use the women's restrooms, Alex was told she would have to use either a restroom in a separate building in what an administrator termed "the storage area," or the faculty men's restroom for which she would need to obtain a key from an administrator. 

In a separate meeting two days later, a school administrator -- who referred to Alex using the male pronoun "he" -- told Alex that if she used the general women's or men's rooms, charges would be pressed against her.

In a letter sent on Aug. 22 to the superintendent of Pinellas County Schools, the ACLU of Florida stated that the treatment to which Alex had been subjected amounted to sex discrimination and called for administrators to "grant Alex immediate access to all sex-specific programs, activities, and facilities at PTEC consistent with her gender identity[...]." 

After nearly a month passed with no serious action to right the wrongs being perpetrated against Alex, the ACLU sent the complaint Tuesday to the DOE.

The complaint calls for the DOE to investigate the circumstances of Alex's situation and find that the District violated Title IX. 

It also calls on the DOE to compel the district to: 

  • stop requiring Alex to use restroom facilities separate from other students
  • train District officials on the rights of students under Title IX, including the rights of transgender students and 
  • revise District policies to ensure conformity with Title IX

If the Department of Education is not satisfied that Pinellas Schools are complying with all federal requirements protecting the rights of students, they have the authority to deny federal funds to the District.

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