Tara R. Pfeifer, WLP Staff Attorney
The Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations recently issued a ‘probable cause’ finding against the University of Pittsburgh in connection with a gender discrimination complaint filed by Rainbow Alliance, University of Pittsburgh’s LGBTQA-student group.
Rainbow Alliance, represented by Women’s Law Project, filed its complaint against the University over a year ago, after the University repeatedly publicly announced that its gender-specific bathroom and locker room facilities were to be used only by those whose birth certificate showed a matching gender/sex designation. Rainbow Alliance alleged that requiring transgender students to use facilities that do not match their gender identity or expression endangers them and violates the City of Pittsburgh’s non-discrimination laws.
While the probable cause finding – which means that the Compliance Review Section of the Commission determined that the evidence supports Rainbow Alliance’s allegations of gender discrimination in the Complaint – is a critical victory for Rainbow Alliance, it is a preliminary finding that is part of a lengthier process before the Commission. Indeed, the University has an opportunity to request reconsideration of that ruling. Moreover, the Commission will attempt to mediate the dispute and will hold a hearing on the issues raised in the Complaint before any final orders or rulings are issued.
In the meantime, the University’s legal counsel has assured Rainbow Alliance that the University will allow students, staff, and visitors to use whatever restroom is appropriate for them, and no birth certificate or other documentation will be necessary. Issues that remain to be addressed in the case include access to and use of locker rooms, residence halls, off-campus lodging for school activities and amending student records.
Congratulations to the Rainbow Alliance for their fearless advocacy on behalf of the transgender community!