The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter to Coachella’s organizers Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Goldenvoice, Inc. on behalf of two transgender siblings, threatening to file a lawsuit unless the festival ensures that all future events comply with California’s anti-discrimination law that requires business establishments to provide equal accommodations to facilities.
Donavion “Navi” Huskey and Taiyande “Juice” Huskey attended Coachella in 2018 and claim that festival security stopped each of them when they tried to use the bathrooms that corresponded with their gender identity. While waiting in line for the women’s restroom, Navi was stopped by a security guard. The following night, Juice, already in the men’s restroom, was told by another security guard to use the gender-neutral restroom. When Juice asked why he was not allowed to use the men’s restroom, security escorted him out. “He led me to the back of the restrooms and made it seem like he was going to show me where the gender-neutral bathrooms were but, as I got outside, he just shut the door behind me,” Juice told The Desert Sun. According to the ACLU letter, no festivalgoers in either restroom objected to either of the siblings’ presence.
“Refusing people access to the restroom which corresponds to their gender identity constitutes a denial to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privilege, or services of a business establishment,” the ACLU lawyers wrote in the letter to festival planners. “California law is clear across various contexts that individuals have the right to access restrooms (and other gender-segregated facilities) in accordance with their gender identity.”
The letter is clear in its intent. The ACLU is willing to take AEG and Goldenvoice to court, but rather than focusing on that, the ACLU would prefer to work with the festival organizers on a solution that will benefit all festivalgoers in the future.
Coachella provided a statement to The Desert Sun, saying that the festival had plans to introduce steps to ensure that all festivalgoers could access restrooms that correspond with their gender identity as part of their “Every One” campaign, which comes after numerous complaints about the festival’s environment. Refinery29 has reached out to Coachella and has not received a response.
“This is not reflective of the safe and inclusive festival culture that we strive for, and this behavior is intolerable,” Coachella’s statement said. “We are reaching out to invite both Navi and Juice to our offices to help us perfect this program for 2019 for all patrons of any gender identity or expression, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, age, or ability.”