ACLU backs TUSD's policy protecting transgender students

2014-05-09T11:15:00Z 2014-06-18T16:04:04Z ACLU backs TUSD's policy protecting transgender studentsAlexis Huicochea Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Tucson Unified School District’s policy to protect transgender students is getting support from the ACLU.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona sent a letter to TUSD Governing Board President Adelita Grijalva and Clerk Kristel Foster Thursday, calling an effort by a conservative religious freedom group to have the policy repealed an “attempt to install bigotry in Tucson public schools.”

The ACLU letter specifically called out the Alliance Defending Freedom, saying the group is pressuring TUSD to implement rules that unfairly discriminate against and ostracize transgender students.

The district’s policy revision to include protections for transgender students stems from an incident at Henry Elementary School in which parents voiced concern about a transgender student using the boys bathroom.

While TUSD technically does not have a policy that addresses bathroom usage, instead handling situations on a case-by-case basis, the district did add transgender students to the list of groups identified in its non-discrimination policy.

“The ADF concerns are rooted in ignorance and bigotry and have no place in a public government institution,” the ACLU wrote.

The ACLU argues that the Alliance's proposed policy, which calls for preventing transgender children from using a bathroom of the opposite sex, would harm the educational environment, disrupts classroom learning, fosters unnecessary divisiveness, opens up the district to potential liability, and leads to bullying and prejudice.

Both Foster and Grijalva, as well as TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sanchez have dismissed the Alliance’s suggestions, standing behind the policy revision, which was approved by the Governing Board in March with a 4-1 vote.

Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at ahuicochea@azstarnet.com or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea​

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Ed Notes includes stories and related items from all Tucson-area school districts written by Arizona Daily Star reporter Alexis Huicochea.

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