A Georgia school district’s policy allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice is under scrutiny after a 5-year-old girl was allegedly molested by a boy at school last year.
Pascha Thomas filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Civil Rights division claiming a “gender fluid” student sexually assaulted her daughter in mid-November 2017 at Oakhurst Elementary School in Decatur, 11 Alive reported. The lawsuit alleges the child went into the bathroom and the male student was able to follow her inside due to the school’s gender-neutral restroom rule.
“When I dropped my child off at school, I never would think that she would be sexually assaulted in a bathroom,” Thomas said in a video produced by The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative, anti-LGBTQ Christian organization identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center
The complaint further alleges that at the time, the little girl didn’t report the incident to school officials. The girl later told her mother that the boy had “pushed her against the bathroom stall” and “digitally penetrated her through her underwear.” Thomas said she made the school aware of what’d happened, after which the Decatur Police Department got involved to investigate the allegations.
Because of the suspect’s age, however, authorities determined there would be “no criminal prosecution.”
Thomas claims child services was called on her a month later. The mother said officials arrived to her door the day after Christmas and told her the school had filed a report, but named her as the responsible party.
“How do you, in your right mind, do something like that to a parent,” she says in the video. “Their child has been sexually assaulted, and then you turn around and paint them as the villain.”
That’s when she teamed up with the ADF, which has been an outspoken critic of allowing transgender or gender fluid students to use the bathroom of their choice, citing privacy and religious freedom issues.
The debate over transgender bathrooms has been a hot-button topic in recent years. In 2016, former President Barack Obama‘s administration set a guidance for all schools to allow trans students access to restrooms that are “consistent with their gender identity.” President Donald Trump rescinded the protective guidelines after taking office, however
In Georgia, local school districts were left to decide how to handle transgender bathroom policies. 11 Alive reported that Decatur City Schools adopted its gender-neutral policy in 2016, allowing students to use the bathroom they identify with.
Attorney Vernadette Broyles said while she sympathizes with trans students, gender-neutral bathrooms are “not the solution.” The attorney filed the lawsuit on Thomas’ behalf, alleging the Decatur City Schools “created a hostile environment for young girls by eliminating their expectation of privacy from the opposite sex … and have exhibited deliberate indifference towards that hostile environment for girls.”
“It’s like her daughter’s violation was erased but it was very real,” Broyles said of the 5-year-old victim.”We’re concerned about a school district that has put a little girl in harm’s way by passing a transgender bathroom policy,”
A spokeswoman for the district said it was aware of the “unfounded claims” made by Thomas and the ADF, adding that it remains committed to supporting “all students.”
‘We fully disagree with their characterization of the situation and are addressing it with the Office of Civil Rights,” the spokeswoman said in a statement to POLITICO. “As this is a pending legal matter, we have no further comment at this time.”