College allows transgender student in women's locker room

October 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
State law, civil rights, or an issue of protecting children? What it is - depends on who you ask. All sides are split when it comes to a decision by a local college. It put a person born as a man - inside a women's locker room. Parents in Olympia are outraged and the college says it has no choice.

The indoor pool at the Evergreen State College is kept as warm as a summer's day. But it's what's happening inside the women's locker room that's drawing heat.

Some call it an outrage; others, equal rights - after a 45 year old student, Colleen Francis, born a man, began to use the women's locker room, because the student identifies as a woman. A young girl saw the student naked. Her mother called police. As a compromise, the college put up "privacy curtains" and allowed the transgender student to use the women's facilities.

The decision isn't sitting well with critics; the college, meantime, argues it's a question of civil rights.

Jason Wettstein, Evergreen State College spokesman said, "The college has to follow state law. 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.

But the law says otherwise, argues Arizona-based religious liberties group "Alliance Defending Freedom." They sent a letter to the college warning it "may be held liable" if something happens in the locker room.

"We're obeying the law," Wettstein said. "We're working to accommodate the privacy needs of multiple users."

For now, the college is keeping its policy "afloat" - hoping to "sink" critics - and their arguments.

Joseph Backholm is the Director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, he said, "Most of us who have daughters have the expectation that when our daughters are in women's restrooms they will not be exposed to naked men."