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The Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is looking for a new director, after Maya Dillard Smith resigned the post last week. Smith had only been on the job for a year, after moving from California. She says ultimately, it wasn’t a good fit.
“It became clear that we were principally and philosophically different in opinion,” she says.
Smith says that difference became especially clear after the Obama administration issued guidance for public schools about bathrooms for transgender students. The administration said schools have to let transgender students use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth. Schools that don’t comply could lose federal funding.
The ACLU has supported the measure.
Smith says she wasn’t well-versed in transgender issues and wanted to learn more. But, she says there was no room for dialogue at the ACLU.
“It’s through communication that we develop empathy and understanding, and I think that our democracy requires us to allow for exchange of ideas, without people being labeled one thing or another,” Smith says.
Since leaving, Smith has launched a website aimed at starting conversations about the rights of various groups of people. The ACLU declined to comment on Smith’s resignation, citing that it’s a personnel matter.