Pitt Settles Suit Filed by Transgender Ex-Student

March 30, 2016

The University of Pittsburgh and Seamus Johnston, a transgender ex-student who sued the university, jointly announced a settlement of the suit on Tuesday. Only a few details were provided. "The university, through its newly appointed associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, will establish a working group, which will include student leadership, to continue to study, evaluate and make recommendations regarding the implementation of best practices for institutions of higher education vis-à-vis transgender individuals, particularly with respect to transgender individuals’ access to gender-specific spaces in accordance with their gender identity," the joint statement said. "The university also notes that, independent of the lawsuit, the university recently made available gender-neutral housing at Ruskin Hall on its Oakland campus, which represents taking leadership on gender-identity issues. Also representing the University’s leadership on these issues, the university’s website now provides that 'faculty, staff and students are welcome to use … any restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.'"

A federal judge last year dismissed a lawsuit by Johnston, a transgender man who was expelled from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in 2012 in a dispute over his use of men's bathrooms and locker rooms. The judge rejected the idea that a transgender man who has not been recognized by legal authorities as having completed a gender transition could claim protection based on transgender status under federal antibias statutes.

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