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Penn. Academic Institute Sued by Transgendered Man Claiming Rights Violation

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By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter
September 20, 2013|2:14 pm

A transgendered man is suing the University of Pittsburgh, arguing that he was discriminated against due to his gender identity.

Seamus Johnston of Cambria County filed suit against the University Monday, arguing officials at the Johnstown campus violated his rights regarding use of male locker rooms and restrooms.

Brought before the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, the 24-year-old Johnston will be representing himself.

Kenneth Service, vice chancellor for Communications for the University of Pittsburgh, provided The Christian Post with a brief statement regarding the matter.

"The university intends to vigorously defend any claims related to this case. We have no further comment at this time," said Service.

Born female, Johnston was expelled by the University of Pittsburgh in January 2012 over his resisting an order to not use male facilities on campus.

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Since then, Johnston has been campaigning to have the university's policies changed for the benefit of transgendered students. Johnston and a pro-LGBT student group, known as Rainbow Alliance, filed complaints against the university before the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations.

In April Johnston and his transgendered spouse, Katherine Anne McCloskey, 56, were subpoenaed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as possible suspects in a series of bomb threats made against the university.

From February to April 2012, scores of bomb threats were made against the university by an unknown party. Johnston and McCloskey denied the charges.

According to its website, the university provides various services for transgendered individuals, including health care.

"We know transgender people are sometimes hesitant to access health care, so we work hard to create and maintain a space where students can ask questions, get answers, and feel supported when making decisions," reads an entry on their website.

"Thus, the health care provided takes into account biologic sex, any anatomic variations, particularly following surgery, and specific sexual practices. Transgender students interested in cross gender therapy are welcome to come and consult with us."

According to the pro-LGBT group Campus Pride, the University of Pittsburgh is one of 613 colleges and universities across the country that includes gender identity and/or expression in their nondiscrimination policies.

In May, Johnston pleaded guilty to trespassing and disorderly conduct in connection with the University of Pittsburgh dispute, receiving a sentence of 90 days probation.

 

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