Education Dept investigating sexual assault complaint concerning transgender school bathrooms

Education Dept investigating sexual assault complaint concerning transgender school bathrooms
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The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is investigating a school district in Decatur, Georgia for its conduct surrounding an alleged sexual assault and whether it relates to the school's transgender-friendly bathroom policy..

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal nonprofit, is defending the alleged victim, a five-year-old girl from Decatur who says she was sexually assaulted by a classmate in the girl's restroom.

That classmate's sex is male, but identifies as gender fluid and is therefore allowed to use the girl's restroom under Decatur policy.

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Pascha Thomas, the alleged victim's mother, said in a video released by the ADF that her daughter was in the bathroom when she was assaulted by her classmate, who allegedly pushed her up against a wall and penetrated her using his fingers as she asked him to stop. 

The district Superintendent, David Dude, told The Hill in a statement that it "is committed to supporting all students."

"We are aware of the unfounded allegations made by the Alliance Defending Freedom," Dude's statement read. "We fully disagree with their characterization of the situation and are addressing it with the Office of Civil Rights."

Dude added that he could not comment further, given that this is a pending legal matter.

The ADF contends the district "failed to provide a prompt and equitable response to the Parent's report that the Student had been sexually assaulted...by a male student."

Thomas claims that she approached school leadership about her daughter's accusation and that the principle would not remove the alleged perpetrator from the classroom or stop them from using the restroom.

Additionally, the group alleges the district "retaliated against the Student's Parent, for reporting the sexual assault, by identifying the Parent as the 'responsible party' in the District's referral of the sexual harassment incident to the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services."

Thomas says the DFCS investigated her because of the district's report.

Finally, the ADF takes aim at the policy itself.

"Several aspects of the Policy, including permitting students access to facilities, including restrooms, that correspond to their gender identity, create a hostile environment for girls."

The OCR confirmed to The Hill via email that it is digging into the ADF's complaints, forwarding a redacted version of a letter it sent to the Decatur superintendent listing the same three issues as well as a statement.

"We do not comment on pending investigations—but to be clear, the investigation focuses on the school’s response to a report of sexual assault and the examination of any and all factors that may have contributed to a hostile environment," a department spokesperson told The Hill.