Share This Page

Transgender student could be sanctioned for locker room use

A transgender student at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown could be banned from extracurricular activities for a year for using a men's locker room.

Seamus Johnston, 22, a junior computer science major from Johnstown, was born female. Two years ago he began identifying as a male. Johnston is undergoing hormone therapy, but has not undergone surgery for a sex change. University records reflect that he is a woman, but Johnston is trying to get those records changed.

On Dec. 2, Johnston said, the university found him guilty under its code of conduct of disorderly conduct, failure to obey a locker room ban and trespassing in the men's locker room. He said he expects to learn the university's sanctions today. They could include one year of probation, which would ban him from extracurricular activities and men's facilities and require him to undergo counseling. Johnston said he would appeal any sanction.

"I hope that I'll be allowed to go back to being treated like a normal student instead of a freak," Johnston said.

Pitt-Johnstown spokesman Robert Knipple said on Thursday he could not comment on the specifics of the charges.

In a prepared statement, he said, "When we became aware of the situation, we identified a locker room that had been used by officials during games. The unisex facility has a single shower and can be locked from the inside to ensure privacy. This facility is available for use by any student, faculty, or staff who desires privacy."

Johnston said he had been using a men's locker room in the campus Sports Center for a weight training course for almost two semesters. University officials told him on Sept. 9 he could no longer do so because of students' complaints, and offered him the use of the private shower.

Johnston said despite his pleas for the university to educate students on diversity issues, he saw little progress and started using the locker room again on Oct. 24. On Nov. 16, just after the student newspaper profiled him, the university banned him from the locker room and began judicial proceedings, he said.

Campus police filed two additional citations last month, charging him with disorderly conduct. Johnston faces a hearing before a Cambria County district judge Dec. 21.

Johnston said he is trying to file charges through a district judge against several university employees, including campus police, for citing him.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.