(Reuters) - The executive director of Georgia’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter has resigned, citing a difference in opinion with the advocacy organization over bathroom choice for transgender people, local media reported.
Maya Dillard Smith told Atlanta radio station WABE that the ACLU did not welcome her questions about the Obama administration’s recent directive telling public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
“It became clear that we were principally and philosophically different in opinion,” she said in the radio interview this week. “How do we educate ourselves if we can’t ask those questions, engage in dialogue?”
Dillard Smith could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
The ACLU nationally has sided with transgender people’s rights in the bathroom debate that has raged since North Carolina in March became the first state to ban people from using multiple-occupancy restrooms or changing rooms in public buildings and schools consistent with their gender identity.
The civil rights organization has filed several lawsuits on behalf of transgender people against such bathroom rules and is seeking to block the law in North Carolina.
Meantime, officials in Georgia and 11 other U.S. states last week sued the Obama administration over the bathroom directive, criticizing the guidance “a massive social experiment.”
ACLU spokeswoman Allison Steinberg declined to discuss Dillard Smith’s departure, describing it in an email as a personnel issue.
But she provided a memo sent to the organization’s staff on Wednesday affirming its commitment to securing equal rights for transgender people.
“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,” James Esseks, director of the ACLU Foundation’s LGBT & HIV Project, wrote in the memo.
WABE said after Dillard Smith’s resignation last week, she created a website called “Finding Middle Ground.”
The site is pitched as a safe space to discuss civil rights for all people. It features a video with a little girl who asks, “Boys in the girls bathroom? I don’t know about that” and includes slides with questions such as, “How do we keep our little girls safe and prevent transgender discrimination?”