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Supreme Court declines to review I ♥ boobies bracelet decision
Mar 20th, 2014 by

Source: http://legalclips.nsba.org/2014/03/20/supreme-court-declines-to-review-i-%e2%99%a5-boobies-bracelet-decision/?utm_source=NSBA+e-Newsletter+Subscribers&utm_campaign=eb3c3dcf2e-Legal+Clips+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_498fb22860-eb3c3dcf2e-312496857

Supreme Court declines to review I ♥ boobies bracelet decision

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Easton Area School District’s (EASD) petition asking the Court to review the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit’s en banc decision in B.H. v. EASD, according to an Express-Times report in the Pocono Record. The Court’s rejection leaves in place the Third Circuit’s 2013 decision striking down a ban on students wearing I ♥ boobies bracelets. The precedent set by the Third Circuit that the bracelets represent a form of protected free speech applies to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The American Civil Liberties Union brought the suit against EASD on behalf of Easton Area Middle School students, who wore the bracelets in October 2010 despite a school-wide ban and were suspended from school.

Noting that very few cases reach the Supreme Court level, John Freund, the attorney representing EASD, said he was disappointed nonetheless. ”Local school authorities need the ability to enforce dress codes and maintain reasonable decorum of the manner of expression in an educational environment, while respecting the legitimate rights of students to express themselves,” Freund said.

In Freund’s opinion, the Third Circuit Court’s decision departed from previous Supreme Court precedent on the subject, which likely means a similar case will be heard sometime in the future. ”Indications are that the Supreme Court will one day revisit that question,” Freund wrote. “Unfortunately, it will take more lawsuits, more attorneys’ fees and more chaos in the classroom before we get the answer.”

Mary Catherine Roper, an ACLU attorney who represented the students, applauded the Supreme Court’s decision. She said the Third Circuit Court’s decision opened the door to protecting student speech on political and social issues, even if the language used is sometimes considered lewd.

- See more at: http://legalclips.nsba.org/2014/03/20/supreme-court-declines-to-review-i-%e2%99%a5-boobies-bracelet-decision/?utm_source=NSBA+e-Newsletter+Subscribers&utm_campaign=eb3c3dcf2e-Legal+Clips+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_498fb22860-eb3c3dcf2e-312496857#sthash.mNSxXD9e.dpuf

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Maine Supreme Court just handed down a ruling in the case of the trans-girl that was denied the use of the girl’s bathroom.
Jan 30th, 2014 by

NOTE – transgender students in CT have the same rights under PA 11-55 –

http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/ACT/PA/2011PA-00055-R00HB-06599-PA.htm

See also – http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/equity/title_ix/guidelines_for_schools_on_gender_identity_and_expression2012oct4.pdf

 

Maine Supreme Court just handed down a ruling in the case of the trans-girl that was denied the use of the girl’s bathroom.
http://www.glad.org/current/item/breakthrough-ruling-in-favor-of-transgender-student

Breakthrough Ruling in Favor of Transgender Student

Transgender Students Must Have Full Access to School Facilities, Says Maine High Court

Today, Maine’s highest court ruled that denying a transgender girl the use of the girls’ restroom at her school violated her rights under Maine’s Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against transgender people. The decision in GLAD’s lawsuit Doe v. Clenchy marks the first time a state court has ruled that transgender students must be allowed to use the bathrooms that match who they are.

The ruling stated in part, “[The school] agreed with Susan’s family and counselors that, for this purpose (as for virtually all others), Susan is a girl.  Based upon its determination that Susan is a girl, and in keeping with the information provided to the school by Susan’s family, her therapists, and experts in the field of transgender children, the school determined that Susan should use the girls’ bathroom.”

“This is a momentous decision that marks a huge breakthrough for transgender young people,” said Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project, who argued the case before the Maine Law Court on June 12. “Schools have a responsibility to create a learning environment that meets and balances the needs of all kids and allows every student to succeed. For transgender students this includes access to all school facilities, programs, and extracurricular activities in a way that is consistent with their gender identity.”

“A transgender girl is a girl and must be treated as such in all respects, including using the girls’ restroom. This ruling is consistent with what educators and human rights commissions – including the Maine Human Rights Commission — around the country have concluded,” said GLAD Senior Attorney Bennett Klein, who was co-counsel with Levi in the case.

The litigation arose after officials at an Orono elementary school denied Nicole Maines, a transgender girl who was then in fifth grade, use of the girls’ restroom. The school had previously allowed Nicole to use the girls’ room but reversed course after the misconduct of one male student who followed Nicole into that facility.

“We are very grateful and relieved that the Court said our daughter should not be singled out for different treatment at school simply because she is transgender,” said Wayne Maines, Nicole’s father. “As parents all we’ve ever wanted is for Nicole and her brother Jonas to get a good education and to be treated just like their classmates, and that didn’t happen for Nicole. What happened to my daughter was extremely painful for her and our whole family, but we can now close this very difficult chapter in our lives. We are very happy knowing that because of this ruling, no other transgender child in Maine will have to endure what Nicole experienced.”

GLAD and Jodi L. Nofsinger of Berman & Simmons, P.A. represented Susan in the lawsuit.

Learn more about the case and read previous case documents here. http://www.glad.org/work/cases/doe-v.-clenchy

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Kentucky’s attorney general asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review decision that students must be Mirandized when questioned by a school official if an SRO is present
Aug 1st, 2013 by

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, says an Associate Press (AP) report in the Courier-Journal, asking it to overturn a ruling by the Kentucky Supreme Court that requires school officials to Mirandize students before questioning them in the presence of a school resource officer.  The state supreme court threw out a student’s conviction for sharing prescription hydrocodone with a classmate, concluding that the presence of a school resource officer and the prospect of criminal charges meant the student should have been informed of his rights.

Conway is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case because state appellate courts are divided over this issue.  States that hold Miranda warnings are required include Georgia, North Carolina and now Kentucky. States that hold Miranda warnings are not required include South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, New York, New Mexico and Louisiana.

Conway also said the issue is an important one, as the use of law enforcement officers as a resource in the school setting has become widespread.  He added that school administrators should not be required to advise students of their rights because a school resource officer may be present during an investigation of school-related issues.

 

read more ………………………..

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UNITED STATES REACHES AGREEMENT WITH ARCADIA, CALIFORNIA, SCHOOL DISTRICT TO RESOLVE SEX DISCRIMINATION ALLEGATIONS
Jul 25th, 2013 by

This is a very significant court case regarding the rights of transgender students. See attached official documents.

 

From: USDOJ-Office of Public Affairs (SMO)
Sent: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 4:07 PM
To: USDOJ-Office of Public Affairs (SMO)
Subject: UNITED STATES REACHES AGREEMENT WITH ARCADIA, CALIFORNIA, SCHOOL DISTRICT TO RESOLVE SEX DISCRIMINATION ALLEGATIONS

 

Note:  A copy of the agreement and closure letter are attached in pdf format.

______________________________________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                 CRT

WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, 2013                                                                             (202) 514-2007

WWW.JUSTICE.GOV                                                                                    TTY (866) 544-5309

 

UNITED STATES REACHES AGREEMENT WITH ARCADIA, CALIFORNIA, SCHOOL DISTRICT TO RESOLVE SEX DISCRIMINATION ALLEGATIONS

WASHINGTON – The United States entered into a settlement agreement with the Arcadia Unified School District in Arcadia, Calif., to resolve an investigation into allegations of discrimination against a transgender student based on the student’s sex.  Under the agreement, approved by the district’s school board unanimously last night, the school district will take a number of steps to ensure that the student, whose gender identity is male and who has consistently and uniformly presented as a boy at school and in all other aspects of his life for several years, will be treated like other male students while attending school in the district.

 

The agreement, joined by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which participated in the investigation, resolves a complaint filed in October 2011.  The complaint alleged that the district had prohibited the student from accessing facilities consistent with his male gender identity, including restrooms and locker rooms at school, as well as sex-specific overnight accommodations at a school-sponsored trip, because he is transgender.  The United States investigated this complaint under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Both Title IX and Title IV prohibit discrimination against students based on sex.

Under the settlement agreement, the district will:

  • work with a consultant to support and assist the district in creating a safe, nondiscriminatory learning environment for students who are transgender or do not conform to gender stereotypes;
  • amend its policies and procedures to reflect that gender-based discrimination, including discrimination based on a student’s gender identity, transgender status, and nonconformity with gender stereotypes, is a form of discrimination based on sex; and
  • train administrators and faculty on preventing gender-based discrimination and creating a nondiscriminatory school environment for transgender students.

 

Additionally, the district will take a number of steps to treat the student like all other male students in the education programs and activities offered by the district.  The district-wide provisions of the agreement will be in place until the end of the 2015-2016 school year.  The student-specific provisions of the agreement will be in place as long as the student is enrolled in the district.

 

“All students, including transgender students, have the right to attend school free from discrimination based on their sex,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.  “We commend the district for taking affirmative steps to ensure that this student and his peers can continue to learn and thrive in a safe and nondiscriminatory environment.”

“Our commitment to civil rights enforcement runs deep and nowhere is that commitment more meaningful than in our schools,” said André Birotte, Jr., United States Attorney for the Central District of California. “This agreement helps ensure continued advancement towards equal rights under the law for all students.”

In recent years, the Justice Department and the Department of Education resolved a number of cases involving gender-based harassment in public schools.  In 2012, the departments entered into a consent decree addressing harassment against students who do not conform to gender stereotypes in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Minn.  In 2011, the departments entered into an agreement with the Tehachapi Unified School District, Calif., to resolve a similar complaint of harassment against a gay student who did not conform to gender stereotypes.

Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 each prohibit harassment based on sex.  The enforcement of Title IV and Title IX are top priorities of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.

13-838

 

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Back to the Basics on Sexual Harassment Prevention
Jul 18th, 2013 by

Attorney Daniel A. Schwartz of  Pullman & Comley, LLC publishes an award-winning blog on legal matters.

It’s free - subscribe here.

 

Back to the Basics on Sexual Harassment Prevention

Posted on Jul 18, 2013 08:57 am by Daniel Schwartz

Daniel Schwartz

With every new law that gets passed, it’s easy to overlook the existing requirements that employers must follow.

After all, if employers are just tracking the new laws down without first nailing down compliance with “older” ones, then they are just leaving themselves vulnerable to potential claims.

One area that is easy to overlook is sexual harassment prevention, particularly in Connecticut. Indeed, some employers believe that simply adopting a policy is all that is required.

And they would be wrong.

So, it’s time to go back to the basics and make sure you’ve hit the checklist when it comes to sexual harassment prevention in Connecticut.  Here are some things to consider:

  • All employers with 3 or more employees, must post notices regarding sexual harassment. Rather than tell you what it should say, just download the poster from the CHRO directly.  And it’s free.   (While you’re at it, consider spending some money to buy the all-in-one posters offered by some commercial ventures.)
  • The CHRO suggests (but does not mandate) that the notices also include: A statement concerning the employer’s policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment and a statement concerning the disciplinary action that may be taken if sexual harassment has been committed; and  contact person at the place of employment to whom one can report complaints of sexual harassment or direct questions or concerns regarding sexual harassment.  Those are good ideas. Add them.
  • The notices need to be posted in a prominent location.  A shared lunch room is typical. Don’t bury them in a location that employees will never see.
  • Employers with 50 or more employees must also provide two hours of training and education to all supervisory employees of employees in the State of Connecticut within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position.  If you haven’t done such training, get it done now.  Your company’s lawfirm can do it or, in some instances, an employer’s EPLI carrier may also provide that service.
  • The training has certain requirements, such as that it is done in a classroom-like setting.  Some e-learning programs are now allowed under a 2003 informal opinion of the CHRO.
  • The CHRO recommends (but does not require) that an update of legal requirements and development in the law be given to supervisory employees every three years.  Again, that’s probably a good idea; it demonstrates an employer’s commitment to this issue.
  • The CHRO encourages employers to keep records of such training. I would go further than that to say that employers should strongly consider it.  If faced with a sexual harassment claim, such records may be key evidence to support the employer’s arguments that it took steps to ensure such harassment did not occur by training its employees.

Do you have all of these items under control? If so, you’re a step ahead.  If not, don’t ignore the issue.  Take steps to get the training done (contact me or others if you need referrals to trainers) and make sure your policies and procedures are current.

 

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