Pascha Thomas had her five-year-old daughter enrolled at Oakhurst Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia. On the night of Nov. 16, 2017, her daughter, who remains unnamed out of respect for her age, told her mother that she felt pain in her genitals.
When Thomas asked questions, her daughter said a male student had “pushed her against a wall, pushed his hand between her legs, and repeatedly felt and poked at her genitals,” according to a complaint filed against the City Schools of Decatur.
This happened in a girls’ bathroom but the Decatur school district has a policy allowing students to use whichever restroom they choose, depending on which gender they “identify” with, College Fix.com reported.
Pascha Thompson met the next day with the school nurse, the school counselor, and her daughter’s classroom teacher, and other school officials. As the official report is redacted, not everyone was named. Thompson met with Oakhurst Principal Marcy Fowler as well.
Decatur Police Officer M. Damico also spoke with Principal Fowler and other officials, and a plan was made to work with the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to properly respond to the situation.
Then, Thompson claims, nothing was done for a week. Thompson asked that the alleged attacker be moved to a different classroom, but the school refused.
Thompson repeatedly sought further meeting with Principal Fowler but no meeting was arranged. Also, the school did not offer her daughter any counseling, despite the fact that she was reporting a sexual assault.
Thompson made repeated attempts to contact School Superintendant David Dude, again with no luck.
For Thompson, the worst thing was that nothing was done to ensure that boys would not be able to use the girls’ bathroom while her daughter was there.
After a week without any action from the school district, Thompson withdrew her daughter from school. According to the complaint, the Decatur school system made no investigation into the incident, and did not address the policy that allowed a male student to go unsupervised in a female-designated bathroom.
To add insult to injury, the Decatur school district had reported the sexual assault to the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services listing Thompson as the “responsible party.”
When DFCS agents arrived at the Thompson home, they took Thompson’s daughter aside and questioner her privately, and in general acted as though the mother might be at fault.
One possible implication of the school listing Pascha Thompson as a responsible party was they may have believed the mother had assaulted her own daughter and invented the story of the attack at school to cover it up.
Outraged by the way her daughter’s case was being handled, Thompson decided to take legal action. An official Title IX sexual discrimination complaint was filed against the school district on May 22, 2018.
The complaint was filed by attorney Vernadette Broyles, Esq., in conjunction with the Alliance Defending Freedom—a non-profit which “advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith,” according to its website.
Boys in Girls’ Bathrooms
The complaint went beyond the fact that the Decatur school district’s student restroom policies foster an environment that made an alleged sexual assault possible.
The complaint points out that elementary school students are almost universally curious about the differences between girls’ and boys’ bodies.
It is not hard to imagine that some boys would opt to use the girls’ bathrooms or locker rooms just for a chance to see girls in some state of undress.
The complaint states that the school district has the responsibility to ensure both safety and the privacy of all the students.
By allowing students to choose how they use bathroom facilities, the school district is not ensuring that students can engage in private behavior, such as change clothing, showering, or using the restroom, without fear of other students trying to “spy” on them.
The parents of the boy who is accused in the complaint had informed the school that their son was ”gender-fluid,” as they put it—that is, he identified as either a boy or a girl at different times. The school staff therefore knew that this student might use a girls’ restroom.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced on Sept. 14 that it would open a formal investigation into the claims made in the complaint.
Three main points to be investigated are:
- whether the School district showed bias by not promptly and thoroughly investigating the complaint of a sexual assault;
- whether allowing students to pick which rest rooms, changing rooms, and shower rooms to use created a frightening or hostile environment for female students;
- and whether the school district intentionally retaliated against Pasha Thompson by insinuating or stating that she was responsible for her daughter’s complaints of pain from her private parts.
‘Deeply tragic and avoidable’
“This situation was both deeply tragic and avoidable,” opined Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb.
“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 of passing these transgender bathroom policies isn’t working; they fail to provide basic privacy or ensure the safety of all students.”
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