FLORENCE, Co., November 8, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – New details have emerged in the case of a ‘transgender’ boy accused of sexually harassing girls in the women’s restroom of a Colorado high school. While school officials initially denied any harassment took place, new details reported by the Pueblo Chieftain indicate that there may be more truth to the girls’ claims than administrators are willing to admit.
Florence High School was plunged into controversy in October after a male student who says he is “transgender” was permitted to use the girls’ restroom facilities. The boy was subsequently accused of harassment – a claim that has been denied by the school.
On October 10, Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) wrote a letter of warning to Florence High School on behalf of an undisclosed number of female students and their families who have alleged harassment.
“This is a nightmare scenario for the teenage girls—some of them freshmen—and their parents at this school,” PJI attorney Matthew McReynolds said in a statement. “This is exactly the kind of horror story we have been warning would accompany the push for radical transgender rights in schools, and it is the type of situation that LGBT activists have been insisting would not happen.”
Last month, school superintendent Rhonda Vendetti denied any harassment had taken place, telling the Transadvocate, “Nothing has actually been verified.”
“This is one parent basically bringing their viewpoint about this situation to the media because they weren’t getting the responses that they hoped they would get from the district, from parents of students at the high school, or from the board and myself,” Vendetti claimed at the time. “We do have a transgender student at the high school and [he] has been using the women’s restroom, [but] there has not been an incident of harassment or anything that would cause any additional concern.”
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But according to a report in the Chieftain, the school called police to investigate the possible harassment.
However, they did so only after warning the girls that they could face hate crimes charges for speaking out against the transgender boy.
“[School officials] have…thrown around the notion that hate crimes could be charged against students just for talking about this,” PJI’s McReynolds told National Review last month. He said that the school had warned the girls that state law was on the boy's side – in 2008, Colorado passed a sweeping anti-discrimination law which banned all discrimination based on “sexual orientation.”
When administrators summoned local police to the school to take statements from the girls, they refused to talk, leading investigators to close the criminal investigation.
“The case is closed because the detective has no collaboration of evidence or statements from the victims,” police chief Mike DeLaurentis told the Chieftain. “Pending any other victim coming forward, we cannot even confirm any of these allegations.”
Although most school harassment cases are civil, not criminal matters, the school is pointing to the closure of the criminal case as evidence the bathroom harassment never happened.
But the girls themselves never said they wanted to press charges, only that they wanted the boy to stay out of the girls’ restroom.
“As far as harassment is concerned, the presence of a biologically teenage boy in a girl’s bathroom or locker room is inherently harassing,” McReynolds told the Chieftain. “Some comments were made by [the boy] while in the restroom that were directed toward clothing and appearance and that could be considered harassing.”
School administrators have submitted a report of their findings in the case to PJI, along with a proposal that the girls stay out of the women’s restrooms if the boy’s presence bothers them – a proposal McReynolds says is unacceptable.
“What the school officials have told the girls is that in order to maintain their privacy they can use a single restroom at the office which is not always available and is some distance from a lot of classes,” McReynolds told the Chieftain. “We don’t believe this is reasonable accommodation because the other student has full accesses . We think that is backwards.”
McReynolds says he plans to appeal the decision to the school board.