8/30/2014

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Controversy swirls around local transgender college student

Controversy swirls around local transgender college student
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A controversial decision by Evergreen State College officials to let a transgender student to use the women's locker room has brought up issues of civil rights, state laws and how best to protect children.

At the center of the issue is a 45-year-old student who was born a man but identifies as a woman. The student uses the women's locker room at the college's indoor pool. Angry parents contacted the police after a young girl saw the transgender student naked inside the locker room.

As a compromise, the college put up "privacy curtains" and allowed the transgender student to continue using the women's facilities.

"If it were my kid I would be absolutely outraged," said Joseph Backholm, director of the conservative non-profit Family Policy Institute of Washington. " (Parents) have the reasonable expectation that there are not going to be naked men or people that their daughters believe are naked men -- however they see themselves -- in that restroom."

Some on campus are outraged by college's decision, while others say it's a matter of equal rights.

"The college has to follow state law," said Evergreen spokesman Jason Wettstein. "The college cannot discriminate based on the basis of gender identity. Gender identity is one of the protected things in discrimination law in this state."

But the law says otherwise, argues Arizona-based religious liberties group Alliance Defending Freedom. The group sent a letter to the college warning it may be held liable if something happens in the locker room.

For now, the college will not change the policy. Officials admit the locker room curtains aren't perfect, but say they do address the privacy concerns of those involved.
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