ACLU files complaint on behalf of transgender nursing student

Alex Wilson

Alex Wilson

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a complaint with U.S. Department of Education accusing the Pinellas County Schools of discriminating against a transgender nursing student who was banned from using the women’s restrooms at Pinellas Technical Education Center in Clearwater, Fla.

Alex Wilson

Alex Wilson

Earlier this year, school officials allegedly threatened to take legal action against Alex Wilson, a certified nursing assistant who hopes to become a licensed practical nurse, if she continued using the female restroom she had been using since enrolling in the school in November.

Wilson, who has been transitioning from male to female and has undergone four years of hormone therapy, said she was told she must use a restroom in a storage area, a 10-minute walk from class.

“They said that because I have not had the surgery that I could not have access to the female’s restroom,” Wilson said. “They told me I couldn’t use the male restroom because I look female.”

Wilson said the school later allowed her to use a faculty restroom, but that the damage from having to use separate restrooms was already done.

“Everyone knows now, everyone sees me having to go to a different restroom. I’m never going to be looked at like I was before,” she said.

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The complaint, filed Tuesday with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil rights, claims the school district violated federal Title IX, which outlaws sex discrimination in schools.

Although Title IX was not crafted with transgender people in mind, there has been precedent for courts using the existing law to extend protection from discrimination to other groups, said ACLU Staff Attorney Daniel Tilley.

District officials said it is their policy for transgender students to be offered a separate restroom but declined to comment on the ACLU complaint.

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