High school council to discuss transgender debate

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Associated Press

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 8:10 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Louisville high school is discussing whether to add gender identity to its non-discrimination policy after fielding complaints about a transgender student being allowed to use the girls' restroom and locker room.

The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/1gDKK20) reports Atherton High School Principal Thomas Aberli is taking the issue to the school's site-based council, which meets on Thursday.

"I have a responsibility to ensure that all of our students and staff are treated fairly and justly," Aberli told The Courier-Journal in an interview Tuesday. "At the same time, I also have a responsibility to educate our community on an issue that many are not familiar with and inform them about the rights of transgender individuals."

Aberli gave the freshman, who was born male but identifies as a female, permission to sue the girls' facilities. That decision led to several student complaints and phone calls from concerned parents.

Aberli said he responded to the concerns by allowing the student to use only one of the school's two girls' facilities.

He says he is asking for feedback from parents, student and community members and will submit that at the meeting.

Aberli said seven students have brought concerns to him.

"Everyone has been cordial and respectful," he said. "My perception is that our staff is very supportive of this and that the culture of our school reflects the diversity and differences of our population. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect."

The issue has created concerns among parents and community members.

Louisville attorney Clint Elliott, who is with the Christian-based legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, appealed to school board members Monday on behalf of several parents to overturn Aberli's decision.

"(This is) a violation of parents' rights regarding the oversight of their children and educational environment of their children and it is certainly a violation of a student's rights to privacy," he told board members.

Others are defending the principal's decision.

Lorenna Cooper, a junior at Atherton and a member of the school's Gay Straight Alliance, said the student has "fought exceptionally hard for acceptance."

"Some people believe she is lying about being transgendered as some sort of attempt to get closer to girls and to harass female students, which is far from the case," Cooper said. "She is one of the sweetest, most genuinely wonderful girls I have ever met, and there is no reason for all of the hate and distrust she has received."

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

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