USA launches investigation into sexual abuse of a minor in Georgia, violation of Title IX

DECATUR, Georgia — The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has announced it will investigate a complaint filed against the City Schools of Decatur by attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom, along with a local family law attorney, on behalf of a kindergarten student who was sexually assaulted in her school restroom. The complaint explains that the school's new transgender restroom policy opened the door for a boy's attack on a 5-year-old student in the girls' restroom at her elementary school.

“This situation was both deeply tragic and preventable,” said Christiana Holcomb, ADF legal counsel. “Schools have a duty to protect the privacy and safety of all students, and Decatur Schools clearly failed this young girl. The current approach that many schools are taking by adopting these transgender bathroom policies is not working; they do not provide basic privacy nor do they ensure the safety of all students.”

According to the complaint filed on May 22, Principal David Dude announced to staff “a policy requiring all Decatur schools to allow boys who identify as female access to girls' restrooms, locker rooms and shower areas on school property… based solely on the individual student's stated preference…”

After the policy was adopted, the complaint states, “Superintendent Dude and the Board were repeatedly warned in written statements and public comments that the policy would result in an unacceptable loss of privacy and safe private space for girls.” The school district made no changes to the policy, and in November 2017, a boy – because of the policy – was allowed into the girls' restroom, where he assaulted the girl, known by the initials “NT.”

The DOE OCR enforces Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving federal assistance. The agency is investigating whether the school district failed to respond promptly to a report that NT was being sexually harassed, whether the implementation of this policy contributed to creating a hostile environment for the student and other girls that did not comply with Title IX, and whether the district retaliated against the student's parents for reporting the sexual harassment.

The school refused to change its policies and forced the mother to remove her daughter from school for emotional and physical safety reasons.

“A school's top priority is protecting the safety and physical privacy of its students, period,” said ADF-affiliated attorney Vernadette Broyles of the Georgia Adoption & Family Law Practice, which filed the complaint with ADF. “The Decatur School's policies created a stressful, unfair and, as in this case, even unsafe environment – especially for girls. We are grateful that OCR is investigating this tragedy, and we hope the agency will help this school district and others find common-sense solutions that protect the privacy and safety of all students.”

Broyles is one of nearly 3,200 attorneys affiliated with ADF and serves as local legal counsel for the student and her family.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, nonprofit legal organization that advocates for people's rights to freely practice their faith.

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