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‘Rights of nature’ law clinic faces transphobia allegations

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Jael Holzman and Jennifer Yachnin 04/16/2022 07:00 AM EDT Link CopiedAccusations of transphobia are roiling a law clinic that spearheads campaigns to establish legal rights for lakes and rivers.Since last summer, seven of the 15 staffers or contract attorneys have left the nonprofit Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which gained some renown in recent years as a leader of the “rights of nature” movement to win civil rights for parts of the environment.

Three of those who quit told E&E News the organization was divided by a toxic work culture that resisted efforts to make it more inclusive, including for LGBTQ people.Kira Kelley, a former contract attorney, said a current CELDF staffer repeatedly misgendered transgender and nonbinary people when referring to them in conversations.

Kelley and another former staffer also said a different co-worker made comments about chemicals in water turning people transgender.“I should’ve quit long before I did,” said Kelley, who did legal work for CELDF before leaving the organization in November.

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