Georgia ACLU Head Resigns Over Bathroom Issue; Daughters 'Visibly Frightened' After Incident With Transgender Women

A sign protesting a recent North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access adorns the bathroom stalls at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham, North Carolina May 3, 2016. The hotel installed the restroom signage designed by artist Peregrine Honig last month after North Carolina's "bathroom law" gained national attention, positioning the state at the center of a debate over equality, privacy and religious freedom. |

The head of the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union announced her resignation over the group's support for President Barack Obama's transgender bathroom directive.

Maya Dillard Smith resigned from her position Thursday, stating that she came to the conclusion that the ACLU's support for the directive came at the expense of women's privacy rights after her daughters shared a bathroom with three transgender women.

"If our goal is to advance the rights of equality of transgender folk, how do we do that, and advance the rights of all people?" said Smith, as reported by WXIA Channel 11.

"If we have all-gender restrooms which will accommodate trans folks, what do we do about women who are the survivors of rape for whom it would be traumatic to share a public restroom where you take down your underwear, and there'd be men in the bathroom?"

Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks to the 2016 graduating class at High Point Solutions Stadium during Rutgers University's 250th commencement exercises, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, May 15, 2016. |

In May, President Obama issued a directive telling public schools to allow transgender students to be able to use the restroom of their chosen gender identity rather than their biological sex.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News last month, Obama argued that such a move was necessary to protect the dignity of transgendered individuals.

"We're talking about kids, and anybody who's been in school, been in high school, who's been a parent, I think should realize that kids who are sometimes in the minority — kids who have a different sexual orientation or are transgender — are subject to a lot of bullying, potentially they are vulnerable," said Obama.

"I think that it is part of our obligation as a society to make sure that everybody is treated fairly, and our kids are all loved, and that they're protected and that their dignity is affirmed."

The directive has prompted much opposition from political conservatives as well as a lawsuit filed by several states arguing that the directive is an example of federal overreach.

For its part, the national ACLU organization has stated that they fully support the directive and the overall drive to allow transgender individuals to use the facilities of their choice.

"When it comes to single-sex spaces and activities, the ACLU has a clear position: Transgender people can use facilities and participate in activities that match who they are," wrote James Esseks of the ACLU.

"We believe it is not only the right answer from a human point of view, but it is also legally required by statutory and constitutional bans on sex discrimination."

In a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Smith explained that her discomfort stemmed from an incident when her daughters shared an Oakland, California restroom with three transgender women.

"My kids were visibly frightened. I was scared. And I was ill-prepared to answer their questions," explained Smith. "I've been asking those same questions, and now I want to raise an honest conversation about them."

In advance of her resignation, Smith posted a video to YouTube last month expressing her reservations about transgender individuals using whatever bathroom corresponds with their chosen gender identity.

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