‘Biology-based’ restrooms called ‘discrimination’Mar 2nd, 2010 | By admin | Category: Signs of the Times (click on article name)
‘Biology-based’ restrooms called ‘discrimination’
‘Schools therefore cannot segregate students based on sexual orientation’
Posted: March 01, 2010
10:06 pm Eastern
By Michael Carl
© 2010 WorldNetDaily
AUGUSTA, Maine – A lawyer for the Maine Human Rights Commission told members of the state board today that requiring all students to use “biology-based” restrooms and locker rooms in the state’s schools is illegal and cannot be allowed to continue.
“Schools cannot discriminate against sexual identity or gender identification. Schools therefore cannot segregate students based on sexual orientation and identity,” commission legal counsel John Gause said at today’s commission meeting, where he was unsuccessful in convincing the board to adopt immediately a set of recommendations.
The commission’s vote was 4-1 to hold a public hearing on the adoption of guidelines that would allow biological males to play on girls’ athletic teams and use girls’ restrooms and locker rooms if they proclaim their gender identity is female.
Today’s public meeting was held before a capacity crowd in the main meeting room of the Senator Hotel in Augusta, Maine. The crowd was divided evenly between opponents and supporters of the proposed guidelines for students who have gender identity issues.
Speaking in favor of the guidelines, Gause said they should be adopted because they are how the 2005 Human Rights Law should be interpreted.
“It’s the commission’s job to interpret the Human Rights Law, and in many cases the courts defer to the commission on the interpretation,” he said.
“The guidelines are how the state will deal with education issues concerning students feeling an affinity for a gender that is not the biological one,” Gause told commission members. “The 2005 statute is worded broadly and is interpreted on a case-by-case basis. The guidance deals with sports teams, bathrooms use and accommodation of the student’s needs.”
Gause further believes deference should be shown to students who have identity issues.
“Students who are transgendered should be allowed access that is consistent with their identity or expression, not with their biological identity,” Gause said. “Also, we should not exclude students with questions of gender identity from playing on the sports teams of their choice.”
He suggested, “We should adopt the guidelines sooner than later.”
However, the guidelines were developed in large part at a Dec. 15 meeting to which homosexual activists were invited but not opponents of the plan.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders; Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; and other “gay,” lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender rights groups as well as the Maine Principals Association and the Maine School Administrators Association.
Representatives of the Maine Family Policy Council and other conservative groups say they were not invited to attend the December meeting.
Commission Chairman Paul Vestal questioned the wisdom of adopting the guidelines while a case is still under litigation.
“There is a case that is still in the courts now. I don’t think it’s wise to adopt these guidelines while the courts are still hearing the case from the Orono schools,” Vestal cautioned.
Vestal was referring to last summer’s commission hearing about the 11-year-old Asa Adams Elementary School student who was a biological male calling himself a female. The commission ruled in favor of the student and the case is still being heard in Penobscot County Superior Court.
Gause warned the court case could take months to resolve, and the commission shouldn’t wait for the court’s answer.
Commissioner Kenneth Fredette read a prepared statement on the dispute.
“I’m speaking here today as neither a Republican nor Democrat, neither a conservative or a liberal and neither gay or straight. I’m looking to the Constitution for my feelings on this issue,” Fredette read. “As I look at the Constitution, all power is inherently held by the people. I have to ask if the commission met the burden of transparency in this process. The answer is ‘No, we did not.'”
He continued, “Each of us must understand that our public schools and colleges are at the heart of our state. Education is of such great importance that our forefathers made reference to it in the Constitution. So when this commission seeks to authorize guidance for our schools, this commission acts beyond its authority,” Fredette said.