A Decatur parent is alleging her daughter was sexually assaulted by another child in an elementary school bathroom last fall, in a federal civil rights complaint that comes amid national turmoil over both sexual assault and gender identity.
The complaint says the girl, 5, was assaulted in a girls’ bathroom by a “gender fluid” boy last November. Both returned to their classroom and said nothing about it to the teacher, the complaint says.
Decatur schools implemented a policy allowing students to use facilities consistent with their gender identity after a controversial 2016 advisory from the administration of President Barack Obama, which said schools had to do so. President Donald Trump’s administration walked back that advisory after his election. But Decatur schools left its policy in place, though it continued to draw questions and concern from some parents.
The complaint, filed by Norcross attorney Vernadette Broyles under the federal Title IX law, says the City Schools of Decatur created a hostile environment for girls by “eliminating their expectation of privacy from the opposite sex.” It says the girl, who was a kindergartner at Oakhurst Elementary School, was pushed against a wall and her genitals were forcibly touched by a fellow student who had followed her to the bathroom.
A school district spokeswoman issued a brief statement saying the district was “aware of the unfounded allegations” and “we fully disagree with their characterization of the situation.”
The statement said there would be no further comment because it was a pending legal matter.
The release of the complaint comes after a tumultuous U.S. Senate hearing involving allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court. The hearing triggered a national controversy over sexual assault and victim credibility that, Broyles acknowledged, is one reason they went public with the case now. The federal government indicated last month that it would investigate.
Broyles said in an interview Wednesday that the Decatur school board has failed to adopt a clear policy around gender and privacy, relying instead on non-specific instructions from Superintendent David Dude.
Dude has written that a child assigned the sex of male at birth who identifies as female should be treated the same as any other female student. The child should be allowed to use the female restroom and locker room, should be addressed with female pronouns, should be allowed to try out for “female” sports and should be allowed to room with females on field trips.
The instructions in the superintendent’s blog did not give specifics about how that was to be implemented.