U.S. Dept. of Justice Tells Ark. University to Allow Transwoman to Use Bathroom
A transgender student from the University of Arkansas at Ft. Smith is now allowed to use the school’s women’s bathrooms after the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to the college telling officials to revise their policy, Campus Reform reported.
Jennifer Braly, 38, a transgender woman, filed a complaint with the DOJ because the university’s officials told her that she could not use the women’s bathrooms on the school’s campus. They did, however, insist that she could use the "gender-neutral bathrooms."
"Some saw me using the women’s public restrooms and complained," Braly said. "[O]ne problem to this is there are not unisex bathrooms in every building. Especially the two main buildings where most of my classes are, so I have to go to a completely different building to use the restroom."
Staff members of the university’s administration, however, claim that they tried to work with Braly. "We tried to make reasonable accommodation and to find a common ground, converting the number of bathrooms on campus to gender-neutral," Mark Horn the vice president of university relations, said.
The university backed down after the DOJ sent a letter to the school, demanding that they review their policies and allow Braly to use the women’s restroom.
"[T]he office of civil rights basically made its expectations through the attorney and the decision was made to respond to that direction," said Horn. "[T]he DOJ complaint caused revisiting of our thinking. [T]he office of civil rights basically made its expectations through the attorney and the decision was made to respond to that direction," he added. "[T]he DOJ complaint caused revisiting of our thinking."
Allowing transgender people to use the bathroom has been a controversial subject. In January, Tennessee conservative lawmakers introduced a bill called the "Bathroom Harassment Act," which would fine a transgender person $50 for using a public bathroom or dressing room.
State Rep. Richard Floyd strongly supported the act and even said he would physically assault a transgender person.
"I believe if I was standing at a dressing room and my wife or one of my daughters was in the dressing room and a man tried to go in there -- I don’t care if he thinks he’s a woman and tries on clothes with them in there -- I’d just try to stomp a mudhole in him and then stomp him dry," Floyd said.