Illinois District Violated Transgender Student’s Rights, U.S. Says

first_imgNew York Times 2 November 2015Federal education authorities, staking out their firmest position yet on an increasingly contentious issue, found Monday that an Illinois school district violated anti-discrimination laws when it did not allow a transgender student who identifies as a girl and participates on a girls’ sports team to change and shower in the girls’ locker room without restrictions.Education officials said the decision was the first of its kind on the rights of transgender students, which are emerging as a new cultural battleground in public schools across the country. In previous cases, federal officials had been able to reach settlements giving access to transgender students in similar situations. But in this instance, the school district in Palatine, Ill., has not yet come to an agreement, prompting the federal government to threaten sanctions. The district, northwest of Chicago, has indicated a willingness to fight for its policy in court.The Education Department gave 30 days to the officials of Township High School District 211 to reach a solution or face enforcement, which could include administrative law proceedings or a Justice Department court action. The district could lose some or all of its Title IX funding.In a letter sent Monday, the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education told the Palatine district that requiring a transgender student to use private changing and showering facilities was a violation of that student’s rights under Title IX, a federal law that bans sex discrimination. The student, who identifies as female but was born male, should be given unfettered access to girls’ facilities, the letter said.Keep up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.“All students deserve the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities — this is a basic civil right,” Catherine Lhamon, the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Township High School District 211 is not following the law because the district continues to deny a female student the right to use the girls’ locker room.”Daniel Cates, the district superintendent, said in a statement Monday that he disagreed with the decision, which he described as “a serious overreach with precedent-setting implications.” In an interview, Dr. Cates said district officials had “worked long and hard” to develop a plan that the district believed would balance the rights of everyone involved. That plan entails having the student change beyond privacy curtains in the girls’ locker room.The rights of transgender students have become the focus of disputes in school districts in many states, leading to divergent approaches regarding which sports teams they can play on, bathrooms they can use and pronouns they are addressed by. In separate cases, two California school districts agreed to lift restrictions on transgender locker room and restroom access after federal officials intervened. Students at one Missouri high school protested a decision by the district to let a transgender girl use female locker rooms and restrooms.Lawyers from the Thomas More Society, a nonprofit religious liberty organization, praised the district for its position, and described a locker room as significantly different from, for instance, a bathroom with stalls. The Education Department, they said, seemed to take a hard line.“You have a higher degree of visual privacy when you’re talking about stalls,” Jocelyn Floyd, a lawyer from the Thomas More Society, said. “In this case, the school has shown that they are sensitive to the needs of this transgender student but also to the needs of all the other students. When you think about it, there are a lot of students in high school who are uncomfortable with disrobing in front of people.”http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/us/illinois-district-violated-transgender-students-rights-us-says.html?_r=1last_img read more

GUIMARAS A HARD SELL? DOT seeks to reposition island after Iloilo Strait tragedy

first_imgParticipants included students, businessmen, motorboatoperators and workers, motorcycle and jeepney drivers, and resort owners, amongothers. The Department of Tourism Region 6knows what it has to do: reassure tourists that it remains safe to cross theIloilo Strait. But Director Helen Catalbas acknowledges there’s a lot to do. MARINA actually ordered the phase outof all wooden-hulled passenger motorboats and replace these with aluminum- orfiberglass-hulled ones but boat operators said the cost was prohibitive. “What Guimaras is currently gettingare independent or individual travellers, small groups. Gone are the big groupsof tourists crossing the Iloilo Strait to visit the island in buses and vans,”said Catalbas. Stakeholders present includedrepresentatives from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Maritime IndustryAuthority (MARINA), local government units of Guimaras, tour operators,resorts, hotels, and restaurants. “In the minds of tourists, it’s noteasy, it’s not safe to go to Guimaras anymore,” lamented Catalbas. According to the Guimaras ProvincialTourism Office, 19,439 same-day tourists visited the island in August and16,908 in September – significantly lower than the 49,295 visitors recorded inAugust 2018 and 31,856 tourists who came in September last year. From the Parola wharf, the berthing area of motorboats plying the Iloilo City – Guimaras route has been temporarily moved to the old wharf of Bacolod City-bound fastcrafts on Iloilo City’s Muelley Loney Street to give way to the dredging of the mouth of the Iloilo River. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN Last month a group calling itself Hugpong Guimarasheld a “unity walk” in Guimaras to dramatize the sorry plight of the provincedue to the tightly regulated operation of motorboats. “We have to respect the ‘safety first’policy of MARINA and coastguard,” said Catalbas, “but we have to come up withsolutions which will allow tourism and Guimaras to move forward.” Wearing black shirts, they called for the return of the way motorboatsoperated prior to the Aug. 3 Iloilo Strait tragedy. “We will reposition Guimaras as a safedestination. We need to assure tourists that traveling to Guimaras is stillsafe. But we have to get the commitment of all stakeholders,” she said duringyesterday’s inter-agency dialogue at a hotel here. Tourism has become one of the maineconomic drivers of Guimaras which boasts of export-quality sweet mangoes,beaches and dive sites. The PCG and MARINA imposed strictmeasures on sea travel following the Aug. 3 Iloilo Strait tragedy. Theseincluded limiting motorboat trips (from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. only), removal orrolling up of tarpaulins or canvas that give shade to passengers, and mandatorywearing of lifejackets throughout the trip. Catalbas also suggested that fastcrafts and roll on, roll off (roro) ships make themselves available for chartertrips of big groups going to Guimaras. Stakeholders also agreed to lobby withMARINA to reconsider one restriction – the removal or rolling up of tarpaulinsor canvas that protect passengers from the scorching heat of the sun. ILOILO City – After the capsizing ofthree motorboats that drowned 31 people in the Iloilo Strait, tourist arrivalsin the island province of Guimaras dropped by 73 percent in August andSeptember this year from arrivals recorded in the same months last year, datafrom the Guimaras Provincial Tourism Office showed. “Our plea is that for the time being, samtang wala pa ang modernization, ibalik ang trapal with some modifications,” said Fred Davis ofHugpong Guimaras. “With a lot of events and conventionsin Iloilo City, Guimaras has to be ready to accommodate tourists. Whether weadmit it or not, whether we realize it or not, Guimaras is one of theattractions of Iloilo City. They (visitors) come here for events and they hopeto cross to Guimaras which is only 15 minutes away,” said Catalbas. One of the things that dialogueparticipants agreed yesterday was to modernize or improve motorboat services. Gov. Samuel Gumarin of Guimaras and Cong. Lucille Nava themselvesearlier warned of the economic dislocation of motorboat operators, crew andtheir families if the phase out of wooden-hulled boats is not done gradually./PNlast_img read more