NCLR and Equality Florida Issue Legal Memorandum to
Clay County School Board
The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has issued a legal memorandum on behalf of Equality Florida warning the Clay County School Board against disregarding the Department of Education’s directive affirming that it is illegal to discriminate against transgender students under Title IX.
Clay County’s decision to treat transgender students unequally is unlawful, short-sighted and harmful to all students. Every student needs to use the restroom, and every student should expect safety and privacy when using them. However, denying Title IX and requiring students to use bathrooms based only on their sex at birth would invade all students’ personal and medical privacy by requiring all students to prove that their anatomy matches either the sex on their birth certificate or the sign at the door of a restroom.
“The decision by the Clay County superintendent to rebuke the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice’s guidance is sending a clear message of discrimination to all Clay County students, parents and teachers,” said Gina Duncan, transgender inclusion director, Equality Florida. “We hope that the superintendent will promptly reverse his decision, and do everything in his power to follow this important directive that provides clear guidelines for the safety and protection of our most vulnerable kids.”
NCLR’s legal memorandum, sent to Clay County School Board members by Equality Florida on May 19th, 2016, provides a clear warning to the Clay County School Board that denying transgender students equal access to sex-specific facilities violates federal law and jeopardizes the district’s federal funding. On May 13, 2016, the Departments of Education and Justice issued their most comprehensive guidance to date on school districts’ obligations under Title IX as they relate to transgender students. The guidance provides that “[s]chools have a responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, including transgender students.”
“By not following clear and standard Title IX policies, the Clay County School Board is requiring transgender boys, who are known to their peers as boys, to use the girls’ restrooms, and requiring transgender girls, who are known to all their peers as girls, to use the boys’ restrooms,” said Dan Merkan, Director of Policy, Jacksonville Area Sexual and Minority Youth Network. “This is not a viable course of action because it singles out transgender students in a demeaning and humiliating way.”