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The surprising reason why this ACLU director resigned

The University of Toronto is changing its position on providing only gender-neutral facilities. Photo: Roman Boldyrev/Flickr/Creative Commons

Why did the University of Toronto adjust its policy on gender-neutral washroom facilities? Photo: Roman Boldyrev/Flickr/Creative Commons

The director of the Georgia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, Maya Dillard Smith, announced she will be stepping down as its interim leader because of a conflict with the ACLU’s stand on transgender bathroom rights.

The ACLU has taken on the cause to allow transgender men and women to use the bathroom and change facilities of their choice. This would allow biological males to use female facilities.

However, there are concerns that such laws would also give sexual predators easy access to women and girls.

In her resignation, she cited a personal experience with her own elementary-aged daughters that caused her to question the ACLU’s position on this controversial issue.

Her daughters were using a public facility, when according to Smith:

“Three Transgender young adults over six feet with deep voices entered. My children were visibly frightened, concerned about their safety and left asking lots of questions for which I, like many parents, was ill-prepared to answer.”

She adds:

“I understood it to be ACLU’s goal to delicately balance competing rights to ensure that any infringements are narrowly tailored, that they do not create a hierarchy of rights, and that were are mindful of unintended consequences.”

She believes that there is a way to accommodate transsexual people without putting women and children at risk to predators.

Smith says:

“I believe there are solutions that can provide accommodations for transgender people and balance the need to ensure women and children are safe from those who have malicious intent.”

Smith is creating a new organization called Finding Middle Ground. In a recently produced video on her site, a young girl says there will be boys who will use female facilities because they are transgender and there will  be those who use them simply because they are perverts.

One suggestion is that gender-neutral bathroom facilities be provided along side single-gender facilities. This would allow people to use the bathroom they are most comfortable with.

According to a report in the Toronto Star, in 2015,  the University of Toronto — which was moving towards providing only gender-neutral facilities — has changed its policy after two reports of men trying to take videos with their cell phones of women showering in facilities in one of its residences on campus.

As a result, it has reduced the number of gender-neutral washrooms and increased the number of single-gender change/washrooms.

In an interview with the Toronto Star, Melinda Scott a spokesperson for the University stated:

“The purpose of this temporary measure is to provide a safe space for the women who have been directly impacted by the incidents of voyeurism and other students who may feel more comfortable in a single-gender washroom.”


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