The ACLU Is Coming for Coachella

In 2018, two Coachella attendees said that they were barred from restrooms that corresponded with their gender identities. Now, the ACLU is demanding the music festival create a written policy that is more inclusive of transgender people.
February 27, 2019, 7:34pm
coachella crowd
Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella

Coachella is still about two months away but it is already in the news. On Tuesday, the ACLU sent a demand letter to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival organizers on behalf of two transgender siblings who allege that they were banned from going to restrooms that correspond with their gender identities during last year's festival.

Donavion “Navi” Huskey, 31, and Taiyande "Juice" Huskey, 29, say that they were "beyond embarrassed" when publicly turned away from the restrooms last year.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Donavion, who is a trans woman, alleges she waited ten minutes to use the women's bathroom before being barred by security. The next day, Taiyande, who is transmasculine, was turned away from the men's bathroom by security as well.

The Huskeys may seek statutory damages, as well as injunctive and declaratory relief barring further violations of California law.

“Coachella is part of the pop culture zeitgeist,” Donavion Huskey said. “It’s all colorful and inclusive. There are tons of LGB people typically there. I felt like it would be a good space...I just didn’t know the festival itself didn’t have policies that were inclusive. That was jarring.”

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The ACLU is requesting that Coachella's entertainment presenter Anschutz Entertainment Group—whose properties include Staples Center, the Shrine Auditorium, and the Fonda Theatre—to create a written policy guaranteeing patrons access to the restrooms based on their gender identity and training for personnel by March 6, ahead of April 12 when the 2019 festival begins.

“California law protects gender identity and gender expression in public accommodations, like concerts," says attorney Stephen T. Hicklin in ACLU's statement. "Some people who know or should know the law in this regard choose to ignore it. We want to raise awareness of these laws so that no one has to go through what the Huskeys went through at Coachella."