AUGUSTA, ME, February 3, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Five years ago, the administration at a Maine school told transgendered fifth-grader ‘Nicole’ Maines that he had to stop using the girls' bathroom at school and instead use a staff bathroom. But last week, the state's highest court said the administration had violated the state's law preventing gender-based and sexual identity discrimination.
On Thursday, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled 5-1 on the lawsuit brought by Maines' family and the Maine Human Rights Commission, saying that the school violated the state’s Human Rights Act. The lawsuit was filed in 2009.
Jennifer Levi, director of the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders' Transgender Rights Project, which is based in Boston, told NBC News it is the first ruling of its kind from a state’s high court. The activist called it “a momentous decision that marks a huge breakthrough for transgender young people.”
The issue of transgendered students and school bathrooms has drawn national headlines in recent months in Colorado and California. In the Golden State, a law allowing students in all grades through high school to use what Huffington Post called “expressed genders” to decide on which bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams to play on went into effect on January 1, 2014. That law is being challenged by referendum, which state officials still have to approve before it can land on November's ballot.
Colorado passed a law in 2008 preventing discrimination against the public, students, and employees and the state’s Civil Rights Division issued a ruling in 2013 in favor of transgendered students. At least two students have seen preferential treatment by the state, even though the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) – which is trying to overturn the California and Colorado laws – has argued the “rights” of the male students are infringing on the rights of female students.
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According to PJI staff attorney Matthew McReynolds, “the Maine decision is emblematic of the alarming lengths to which transgender activists will go to enforce their radical gender notions on the rest of society. Although the Maine decision will not bind any courts or jurisdictions outside of Maine, it is likely to embolden other activist judges across the country to issue copycat decisions.”
PJI has created a video showing interviews with school-aged girls at Florence High School near Colorado Springs, Colorado and their parents, where a transgendered boy attends. All of the students and parents expressed concern about allowing the male student in female bathrooms and locker rooms. One unidentified girl said she “felt really weird” the first time she saw the transgendered boy in the female restroom, and another said she “[doesn't] go to the bathroom [quite] as much” because of the potential of his presence. One mother told PJI in the video that the school told her “there [are] no rights” to privacy for the girls.
McReynolds says this standard violates privacy rights, and told LifeSiteNews.com that “if constitutional privacy rights mean anything, they surely mean that students cannot be forced to expose themselves to members of the opposite biological sex in a sensitive setting like a locker room.”
He noted that “many school districts have been navigating these difficult issues with sensitivity toward the needs of all students, for example by providing third restroom or changing alternatives for students with gender identity issues,” but criticized “the insatiable and unreasonable transgender lobby” for ignoring “reasonable accommodations,” and said proponents of ignoring biology in schools are “pretending that anatomy and biology don't matter.”
The Maine ruling had to deal with two state laws – one that required separate bathrooms based on gender and another that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Court said its decision “must not be read to require schools to permit students casual access to any bathroom of their choice,” but rather that “it has been clearly established that a student's psychological well-being and educational success depend upon being permitted to use the communal bathroom consistent with [his] gender identity.” This is especially relevant since Maines has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, or “gender identity disorder” – the psychological term for transgendered persons.
According to McReynolds, “children and adults alike who struggle with gender identity disorders or dysphoria need compassion and good counseling,” but ignoring biology is not a proper solution.