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Protecting Student Privacy At School, Part 2

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
The Truth Network Radio
December 30, 2015 12:00 pm

Protecting Student Privacy At School, Part 2

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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December 30, 2015 12:00 pm

In Part 2 of a two-part series, NC Family president John Rustin continues a discussion he began last week with Matt Sharp, legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), about an important case in Virginia that is currently before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and could have a significant impact on the privacy, safety and health of students in public schools in North Carolina.


This is family policy matter program is produced by the North Carolina family policy Council of profamily research and education organization dedicated to strengthening and preserving the family and up in the studio here is John Rustin, Pres. North Carolina family policy Council doing it this week.

Profamily policy matters is our pleasure to have Matt Sharp back with us on the program is. Matt is legal counsel with alliance defending freedom where he plays a key role on the freedom of conscience, team since joining ADF in 2010. Matt has worked on a number of important cases advancing religious freedom, particularly for elementary students in school matters with us to continue the discussion that we began last week about an important case out of the state of Virginia that is currently before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit which could have a significant impact on the privacy, safety and health of students in public schools in a number of states including North Carolina, we consider the outcome of this case to be very important and apparently others do as well is North Carolina Gov. Pat McCauley recently signed his name to a friend of the court brief filed in this case match great to have you with us on family policy matters much bigger will we pretend to be back with us and talk about this very important issue. No matter.

Tell us about this case which is G GV Gloucester County school board and the Virginia school district whose bathroom policy is being challenged by not only the ACLU but also the Obama administration. So Gigi is a female student in the Gloucester school district in Virginia and was starting to identify as a male dressed like a male go by a male's name and eventually started demanding to be allowed to use the mail, restrooms and locker.

Initially the school districts that yes I yell were going to allow you to do that this happened for about 6 to 7 week they hadn't been any consultations. There hadn't been information given to parents about this girl was now going to be in the boys restroom in sharing the facilities with your voice and so a lot of the parents became concerned and we were contacted by parents ADF and and we sent a letter to the blaming why the law protects students right to privacy why a better course of action is to allow this transgender student to use a single stall restroom place where her privacy can be acted but protecting the rights of everyone else, and maintaining specific distinct facilities for boys and girls. Fortunately, the school district agreed and the board reversed course adopted a good policy and that would ultimately lead to the student suing the school district with the assistance of the ACLU saying you're violating title IX my constitutional right by not allowing me a girl to use the guys bathroom. This is to be a very significant case both in Virginia and that region but I think even across the country are schools required to allow transgender students use whatever bathroom they want or common sense going to reign supreme is title IX going to be respected and are schools going to retain the authority to impose these commonsense rules when it comes to bathroom access.

So every school in Virginia time and throughout the Fourth Circuit I think is going to be directly influenced in and given some clear direction based on the outcome of what the Fourth Circuit decided that it really seems one of the biggest issues in this case, is that really is the freedom of local school districts, parents and others within the community to deal with and determine these types of policies that may come up with respect to transgender students without intervention from the federal government's use of the Obama administration is really driving a lot of this effort and even has got engaged in this lawsuit. In addition to protecting the privacy right of students isn't keeping these policies at the local school district level important to ensure that parents and others in the community have an opportunity to have input and to express their views about how they want their children to be treated within the school system absolutely worst thing more and more effort by the federal government to encroach upon the local authority of local school courts have always said that educational decisions are best left local. They know their students.

They know their community.

They know what is in the best interest of their kids and so that's why even with title IX when it came to the bathroom issue and whatnot Congress that were going to let schools decide how best to protect the privacy and safety of their students when it comes to bathrooms and locker room. They didn't do a one-size-fits-all. They delegated that the local school. What were saying is an Obama administration that is subverting that and telling school. We don't care what you do believe we don't care what your students. What we don't care what your parents went you either adopt our way of thinking. You adopt are radical views on all of this that would open up the bathrooms to whoever they want to or were going to harm your students by stripping them of federal funding.

On average that's about $1200 per student per year for a lot of schools. This is a big chunk of their budget and schools and educational opportunities would be dramatically impacted by the loss of that funding but because they're using the power of the pocketbook and coming in and threatening schools but losing the federal funding the government is forcing their own ideology their own view of how things should be run on the local school, and so is a matter of pure local authority and the ability of schools to regulate and run themselves. This is a matter of vital importance for school boards to stand up and say enough is enough. Stay out of our business. Let us decide what is best for the kids in our school will clearly ADF and you Matt have been on the front lines of this issue them in dealing with it.

In fact, ADF developed and sent out a model bathroom policy for schools across the country that is aimed at addressing these types of issues with students who do not identify with their biological sex. Tell us about that ADF recommended policy and why it really is the best policy for schools to adopt in order to effectively deal with these types of issues and protect all student we offer is a very common sense, simple policy that any school can understand, but a policy that also shows respect and compassion for every student in the school and basically have three simple part number one we define what sex because we want to get away from the government you that sex includes gender identity in all of these other things we do find it is clearly male and female. Again, based on what your birth certificate says and what the doctor parents decide if you got your sex child when that child is born, that addresses all of that.

Number two it says school should designate restrooms with either boys or girls students and others are required to use the bathroom of the biological again, since protect his commonsense way of structuring things, but in the third part. It realizes that there are some students like transgender student, or even others that just may be very shy and have a increased sense of privacy that are not comfortable using the communal restroom of the biologic fit says schools can designate a single stall restroom like one in the nurses restroom or the teachers lounge or any other one that's available and give that as an accommodation is a place where transgender student or any other student wanting more privacy can use the restroom change and have their privacy protected as well.

So it's a win-win for everybody and it's a way to show compassion and respect and dignity to every student in the school so that's what were encouraging schools to adopt. It was basically the policy that the Gloucester school district adopted as well. So if the policy does not only in our view complies with title IX in the law, but that even a federal court is looked at and says yes this is common sense is consistent with the law. I'm going to uphold North Carolina Gov., Cory recently signed onto an amicus brief friend of the court brief was followed by believe the Atty. Gen. of South Carolina supporting the schools district policy allots defending freedom also submitted a friend of the court brief in the case as well. What is ADF arguing in its brief in terms of why the Gloucester County school district's policy should be upheld. Our focus is on the privacy issue, we submitted a brief on behalf of parent students and community members in Gloucester. The people directly impacted by this policy. What we raised is what courts across the country of have concluded that there is a fundamental right of privacy cannot be viewed and closed or in similar circumstances by members of the opposite sex. One of the cases it does arises out of his situations involving prisoners and so you got these male prisoners of been convicted of a crime and are in prison and they filed a court suit against the prison because there was female guards patrolling near the restrooms and shower areas in the prisoners that look we may have given up a lot of our rights when we got sent to prison but we haven't given up our fundamental right to privacy in the courts agreed and they said yeah prisoners you're right. Although the female guard right to employment got to be reassigned to some other part of the prison. So if these male prisoners have a fundamental right of privacy cannot be viewed changing or showering by members of the opposite sex. How much more so to these units in Gloucester and across the country have that same constitutional right. That's the basis of our argument that there is a clear right here and again were not saying that the transgender student should be afforded a safe place. They should, but it shouldn't come at the cost of violating the rights of privacy of the students in Gloucester and across the country well and apparently the ACLU and the Obama administration and others are not in agreement with think they are really pushing a much more aggressive agenda and they really unfortunately do not see the comments in solution, which absolutely is what they are interested more in probably the political ramifications and pushing for left agenda which is ultimately their goal. So Matt, what is next. In this case, what happens with the Fourth Circuit sides with ACLU and the Obama administration forces the Virginia school district to allow transgender students to use the locker rooms and restrooms of their choice.

Do you think this case would eventually go to the US Supreme Court, if it meets that end, I think there's a strong transfer that I do think there's a good chance of of our side and common sense winning out on this case just like the lower court did all the appellate court has to do is look at title IX that everyone knows was always designed to deal with males and females in discrimination among them if they look at Congress wants to change it let Congress do it but we from the court are not going to redefine what X means redefine what title IX means Congress wants to do it will do it to them and I think there's a good chance that this issue make it appeal to the Supreme Court. Either way it goes, I think a lot of people are realizing that there's sweeping consequences for our nation if this policy is struck down. If commonsense, struck down as basic privacy protections are struck down by the Fourth Circuit. So there's a good chance the court will look at it and because it involves a federal law and an area that has been a a hot topic and that lots of people across the country are very interested in, there's a good chance the court may take it and again we would hope that they would do a ruling in favor of common sense in favor of a basic understanding of male and female in biology. Well, it would seem that the implications of this case were to go in the other direction, and the courts recognized our rightful transgender students or individuals who identify themselves as is different than their biological sex that not only could apply to schools but it could apply to any other public accommodation that exists in our country. So, public parks, entertainment venues, basically any area where the public is welcomed in could ultimately fall under a similar type of policy is not your understanding. Absolutely. And we need to look no further than Houston, Texas Houston past the law, the city Council did that basically outlawed gender identity discrimination in some of the consequences were businesses, places of public accommodation, theaters, parks, restaurant Cetera were going to be told you have to allow manage women's restroom and vice versa will people started looking at this in business owners and parents and community members and thank were not comfortable with this and so they went and revoked and overturned the bad decision of the city Council by overwhelming I think is like a 62% majority disagreed with this is that this is not a society. This is not a city were comfortable creating and that just goes to show you the consequences of this but also what happens when people stick, step back, take a look at the consequences of these laws and just come to commonsense conclusion that there is a better path forward.

There's a way we can provide a safe place and accommodate the needs of trade of a transgender person, but in a way that does not compromise the safety and privacy of everyone else. When we are almost out of time for today before we close working our listeners go to learn more about allots defending freedom in this case they should business it ADF's work reliance defending freedom ADF they can learn more about this case but importantly if their school is facing this and if their school is considering a policy we want them to contact us. We want to send the letter and informational materials to the school and we stand by what we say because of the school will adopt our policy, we may be able to represent that school free of charge if they get sued by the ACLU, or transgender student or something like that because we think every school should be able to defend our policy take a firm stand for dignity for privacy and for the safety of every student under its care credit will not let me repeat that website again for listeners benefit that's ADF and we certainly want to encourage parents to not only visit your website and and avail themselves of that information but also to keep their eyes and ears very open and and be aware of what's taken place in the school districts in their areas of the state so that if something like this comes up will be aware of it and then with the help of ADF will know how to better respond to that. And with that I want to thank you Matt Sharp for joining us this week on family policy matters and for the great work that you're doing allots defending freedom, working to defend just that our freedoms are across this nation were so grateful for you and for all that ADF does so much for having us family policy matters. Information and analysis, future of the North Carolina family policy Council join us weekly for discussion on policy issues affecting the family. If you have questions or comments, please contact 919-807-0800 or visit our website and see

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