I wrote yesterday about a transgender student at Florence High School, Colo., who allegedly harrassed girls in a women’s restroom. Because of controversy regarding the story, the post now includes the following addendum:
Some news outlets have been reporting that this story is false, prompting multiple retractions and larger controversy. I contacted the Pacific Justice Institute, which represents two concerned families in the case, and was unable to reach Rhonda Vendetti, Florence High School’s superintendent, who will be out of the office for the rest of the week. However, Vendetti previously talked to Cristan Williams of the Transadvocate on the subject, responding to many of the ambiguities in question.
Matthew McReynolds, staff attorney for the Pacific Justice Institute, told me that “the core issue is that this school is giving this transgender youth full access to both boys’ and girls’ facilities, and they are showing little if any regard for the privacy rights of other students. . . . We have received additional reports of specific, inappropriate statements made by this student, and we are working to corroborate those reports.”
“We’re standing by our allegations that our student clients have been threatened with retaliation by school officials for talking about this, including [the threat of] being kicked off athletic teams,” he said. ”[School officials] have also thrown around the notion that hate crimes could be charged against students just for talking about this.”
McReynolds told me that PJI sent a letter to the principal of Florence High School, Brian Schipper, requesting that the principal or district “[explain] in detail any factual allegations that you consider to be disputed.” PJI has received an initial response from the school attorney, but contends it was “not really a substantive response.” Schipper could not be reached because of the school’s fall break. The letter was sent on Thursday, October 10, and, as of the afternoon of Wednesday, October 16, PJI has not been notified of any factual disputes.