OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A liberal arts college in Washington state has received a warning letter from the Arizona-based religious liberties legal group, Alliance Defending Freedom, advising that the college's decision to allow a transgender female student to use a woman's locker room could put the school in legal jeopardy.
At issue is a controversial decision by Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., to allow an unnamed 45-year-old student who identifies as female, but has male genitalia, to use the women's locker room at the college's indoor pool.
Angry parents have contacted police after a young girl allegedly saw the transgender student naked inside the locker room; the locker room is shared with the Capital High School swim club and a children’s swim academy, along with the students at Evergreen.
According to parents, children as young as 6-years-old use the locker room.
“(A mother) reported her daughter was upset because she observed a person at the women’s locker room naked and displaying male genitalia,” said a police report filed in September by the mother of a 17-year-old girl.
The college said it has installed privacy curtains, but does not currently have plans to change its policy.
“The college has to follow state law,” Evergreen spokesman Jason Wettstein told KOMO-TV. “The college cannot discriminate based on the basis of gender identity. Gender identity is one of the protected things in discrimination law in this state.”
In its letter sent Friday, David Hacker, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom group, warned Evergreen, "The fact that this individual was sitting in plain view of young girls changing into their swimsuits puts you and Evergreen on notice of possible future harm."
Joseph Backholm, director of the conservative non-profit Family Policy Institute of Washington, an anti-gay group leading efforts to overturn the state's marriage equality law that voters will decide on Tuesday, said "(parents) have the reasonable expectation that there are not going to be naked men or people that their daughters believe are naked men -- however they see themselves -- in that restroom."
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