- Associated Press - Thursday, May 12, 2016

OCALA, Fla. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed a civil rights complaint against a north Florida school district over a new transgender bathroom policy that limits restroom use to students based on their birth sex.

The ACLU filed the Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against Marion County Public Schools.

The complaint comes after the school board passed the resolution 4-1 last month after a parent claimed that his son’s rights were being violated because he didn’t like sharing the Vanguard High School bathroom with another student that was born female but now identifies as male.

The ACLU’s complaint says a transgender student was suspended several days later for using the men’s restroom at school, despite having done so for years.

“In case anyone doubts that the current ugly political rhetoric doesn’t have an impact - in this case the student was suspended from school for using the bathroom he has been using for years!,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, in an email.

The complaint calls for requiring the district to permit the student to use male restroom facilities, remove the suspension from his disciplinary record and revise relevant policies.

Marion County Public Schools spokesman Kevin Christian said he couldn’t confirm the student’s suspension and said the district’s attorney would handle any legal action.

“We’re not surprised a complaint was filed,” Christian said. “The school board was warned litigation was likely when they passed it. It’s obviously going to play out in the court system.”

Attorneys for the Liberty Counsel are representing the family of the boy who complained, arguing that he is a devout Christian whose religious beliefs and right to privacy were violated when the district previously allowed transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

In a posting about the case on its website, the counsel said the school board’s policy “protects the privacy rights and safety of all Marion County students.

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