Published July 27, 2013
The U.S. Department of Justice's latest cause - fighting for a transgendered California ninth-grader's right to use the boy's room at school - has conservative groups wondering just how far Washington will go in the name of civil rights.
The student was born a girl but “has identified as a boy from a young age,” according to the Department of Justice, which reached a settlement with the public school district in Arcadia, an affluent LA suburb. Under the deal, the district must not only change the student’s restroom privileges and make similar accommodations on overnight trips. It also must institute a host of measures to ensure transgender students are treated as whatever gender they consider themselves to be.
Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, said Attorney General Eric Holder is off-base in pushing the case as a matter of civil rights.
“Eric Holder needs to reread the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and find out that civil rights are based on an unchangeable, immutable characteristic,” Thomasson said. “You cannot change your genes or your gender. You have chromosomes and they are either XX or XY. This is a girl who has been environmentally warped to believe she is a boy, and, instead of coddling this confused child, her parents should have gotten her into counseling with an expert on gender confusion.”
According to a DOJ report, the student began her gender transition from female to male during fifth grade after being teased and socially ostracized at school and on a school camping trip. After spring vacation, she adopted a male name and began wearing masculine clothing and teachers and classmates were told to use masculine pronouns in reference to her. She also used a gender-neutral bathroom for the remainder of the school year, according to the report.
In the years that followed, the student's parents repeatedly tried to get the district to allow the student to use male-designated facilities but the school refused, citing safety and privacy concerns. Stating that she could use the private restroom in the nurse’s office, the child was reportedly frustrated with this arrangement. When the school denied a 2011 request from the student's parents to allow her to share a cabin with several boys during a school trip, they filed a complaint with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
Under the settlement approved unanimously by the school board, the district agreed to amend “its policies and procedures, training staff, and ensuring appropriate supports for the student and other transgender students who request it.”
“We are pleased with the collaborative agreement we have worked out with the Department of Justice," David Vannasdall, assistant superintendent of the Acadia Unified School District, told FoxNews.com. "We feel it is a reasonable agreement, and we feel it will allow school to move forward in its mission to support all students.”
But several conservative groups said the federal agency has no business getting involved in the issue as a civil rights matter, and in doing so, trampled on the rights of other students.
"It is definitely a situation where we have compassion for that child and the child needs help," Bob Tyler, an attorney at Advocates for Faith & Freedom, told FoxNews.com. "But you can’t ignore the rights under the constitution of California, and arguably under the United States Constitution, of all the other students of the school.”
Steve Johnson, president of Arcadia Republicans, told Fox News that other students oppose the decision to allow the student to use the boys' restroom.
“The restroom can be a very personal thing for kids growing up,” Johnson said. “This is just a decision handed down by the Obama Administration.
Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition, told FoxNews.com that the main issue is whether this decision will impact the rights and fairness for the majority of kids.
“We are seeing a trend here nationally where we have individuals who are psychologically unhealthy who are always getting with they want, but what do you do about the hundreds of other children in the school affected?” she said.
Lafferty rejected the idea that claiming a gender identity that runs counter to one's anatomy is a civil right on par with the struggle African-Americans and other groups went through.
“For a millennium, sex has meant male or female," she said. "What they are saying is now you can change that.”
FoxNews.com’s Michael Cipriano contributed to this story.