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November 21, 2012

GLAD to Appeal Ruling in Case of Transgender Girl Discriminated Against at School

Today, a Maine trial court judge dismissed the case of a transgender girl who experienced discrimination and harassment at her Orono school. GLAD, which is representing the student in the lawsuit, announced it will immediately appeal the decision.

“Our client Susan Doe is a transgender girl who was made an outcast by school officials and was subjected to severe bullying over the course of two years simply because of who she is, in violation of Maine anti-discrimination law,” said GLAD Senior Attorney Ben Klein, who argued in the case on behalf of the student. “The judge is wrong on the law and ignored critical facts in making his decision.”

“We will appeal this decision,” said Jennifer Levi director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project. “We always knew that the trial court was just the first step and that this lawsuit would ultimately be decided by Maine’s highest court. “Under Maine law, a transgender girl – whom the school acknowledged is a girl – needs to be able to live consistent with her gender. The school acknowledged that Susan could not otherwise progress in her academic development.”

Maine has a statewide law prohibiting discrimination against people based on gender identity and expression in all areas, including public education and public accommodations.

GLAD filed the lawsuit, known as Doe v. Clenchy, after officials at an Orono elementary school denied a transgender girl the use of the girls’ restroom and other facilities and restricted her participation in school activities. The school had previously allowed Doe to use the girls’ restroom without incident until one of her male classmates began making it an issue with coaching from his grandfather. Doe also suffered a campaign of harassment and bullying for over two school years at the hands of this classmate, whom the school failed to discipline. Eventually the bullying got so bad the parents were forced to withdraw their daughter and her twin brother from the Orono school system and move them to another part of the state where they could go to school quietly and safely.

GLAD and attorney Jodi L. Nofsinger of Berman & Simmons, P.A. are representing Susan Doe.

Attorney Klein argued the case at before Penobscot County Superior Court Judge William R. Anderson on Sept. 19.