The head of Georgia’s ACLU chapter has resigned over President Obama’s directive for schools to let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice, after she said her daughters were frightened by running into three transgender individuals in the women’s bathroom.
The ACLU has supported the Obama administration’s guidance on transgender bathroom use in public schools — a principle Maya Dillard Smith stands strongly against.
“It became clear that we were principally and philosophically different in opinion,” she told Atlanta’s NPR station.
She said she is in the process of educating herself on transgender issues, but claimed there was no room for dialogue at the ACLU.
“It’s through communication that we develop empathy and understanding, and I think that our democracy requires us to allow for exchange of ideas, without people being labeled one thing or another,” Ms. Smith said.
In a statement obtained by Atlanta Progressive News, she accused the ACLU of being “a special interest organization that promotes not all, but certain progressive rights. In that way, it is a special interest organization not unlike the conservative right, which creates a hierarchy of rights based on who is funding the organization’s lobbying activities.”
Ms. Smith explained that the last straw for her was when her young daughters ran into three transgender adults in the women’s bathroom.
“I have shared my personal experience of having taken my elementary school age daughters into a women’s restroom when shortly after three transgender young adults over six feet with deep voices entered,” she wrote. “My children were visibly frightened, concerned about their safety and left asking lots of questions for which I, like many parents, was ill-prepared to answer.”
She said the ACLU’s goal should be to “delicately balance competing rights to ensure that any infringements are narrowly tailored, that they do not create a hierarchy of rights, and that we are mindful of unintended consequences.”
“Despite additional learning I still have to do, I believe there are solutions that can provide accommodations for transgender people and balance the need to ensure women and girls are safe from those who might have malicious intent,” she said.
Marsha Zeesman, a spokeswoman for the ACLU, declined to speak with the Atlanta Progressive News on personnel matters. A job announcement seeking Ms. Smith’s replacement has been posted on the organization’s website.
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