A Georgia school’s transgender bathroom policy is being examined by the U.S. Department of Education as it investigates the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl in a school bathroom.
The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a complaint about the incident on behalf of the girl’s parent, The Associated Press reported.
The conservative group alleges that last November, a “male student who identified as gender fluid” assaulted the girl at Oakhurst Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia.
Education Department spokesman Nathan Bailey confirmed the department’s Office of Civil Rights is involved.
“The investigation focuses on the school’s response to a report of sexual assault and the examination of any and all factors that may have contributed to a hostile environment,” Bailey said.
During the Obama administration, the Education and Justice departments strongly encouraged schools to allow transgender students to decide which bathroom they wanted to use. The Trump administration scrapped that national standard and said local schools should decide bathroom policies for themselves.
The complaint filed by the ADF noted that in July 2016, at the time the Obama administration was pushing schools to open bathrooms to transgender students, the Decatur School District adopted such a policy.
The complaint noted that the schools were warned such a policy could result in harm to students but kept the policy in place anyhow.
In November 2017, “a boy known to the school administration to identify as ‘gender fluid’ (‘the Assailant’) was permitted — pursuant to and as a direct result of the Policy — to enter the girls’ room while (Victim) was there. While the two young children were in the girls’ restroom alone together, the Assailant confronted (Victim), pushed her against a wall, and forcibly touched her genitals despite her protests, causing her both pain and fear,” the ADF complaint said.
The complaint said that even after the incident, the schools failed the girl in question by showing “deliberate indifference towards the sexual Assault, towards its harmful impact on (Victim)’s educational opportunities, and towards the risks of further assaults by the Assailant or others facilitated by the Policy.”
Vernadette Broyles, an ADF-allied attorney, said in a news release, “A school’s top priority is to protect the safety and bodily privacy of its students, period,” according to the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, Georgia.
“Decatur School’s policies have created a stressful, unfair, and, as in this case, even unsafe environment — particularly for girls,” Broyles said. “We are grateful that OCR is investigating this tragedy, and we hope the agency helps this school district and others adopt commonsense solutions that protect the privacy and safety of all students.”
The school district has said it did nothing wrong, the Ledger-Enquirer reported.
“City Schools of Decatur is committed to supporting all students,” spokeswoman Courtney Burnett said in a statement. “We are aware of the unfounded allegations made by the Alliance Defending Freedom. We fully disagree with their characterization of the situation and are addressing it with the Office of Civil Rights. As this is a pending legal matter, we have no further comment at this time.”
The ADF said that school has a responsibility to protect students and not simply pass policies blindly.
“This situation was both deeply tragic and avoidable,” ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb said in a news release.
“Schools have a duty to protect the privacy and safety of all students and Decatur Schools clearly failed this young girl,” she said. “The current approach that many schools are taking of passing these transgender bathroom policies isn’t working; they fail to provide basic privacy or ensure the safety of all students.”
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