By Alex Temblador
School has just begun and what started out as a good year for some transgender students, quickly turned sour after parents and students at two schools learned that their districts were allowing trans students to use the bathroom that they identify with. The school district of Troy, Ohio, and Hillsboro High School in Missouri are allowing trans students to use the bathroom that they identify with and the ignorance, bigotry, and hate that is ensuing from these new policies is unfathomable.
In Troy, Ohio, they are allowing trans students to use the bathroom facility that they identify with and are also providing a gender neutral bathroom which will allow trans and non-trans students to use a private facility if they wish. Troy schools made this decision with a transgender student (there appears to only be one so far in the district) in mind and to protect the rights of students under federal Title IX. The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights States that Title IX prohibits “sex discrimination” which “encompasses discrimination and harassment based on gender identity and gender nonconformity.”
Superintendent Eric Herman stated, “The decision basically went to the legal counsel and talked about the law is and where other people have been on this and we made that decision from there.”
When asked, “If you had not had a student that identified this way, is this a change that would have been implemented in Troy schools?” Herman replied, “We hadn’t talked about it so I don’t know if we would have. But because we have a student, it’s a scenario that we need to deal with and we are.”
States away, a high school in Missouri recently changed their bathroom policy as well. Transgender student Lila Perry came out as trans last year and fed up with feeling ostracized to a unisex faculty bathroom, she requested to be allowed to use the girl’s bathroom and locker rooms. The school were extremely supportive of this and allowed her to use the bathroom of her identity this year.
Because of the tolerant and inclusive actions of the Troy school district and Hillsboro High School’s administration, some parents and even students are responding in negative ways. At Hillsboro High, parents held a protest outside of school alongside students who had performed a walk out in protest. (30-40 walked out in support of Lila Perry!) One man rode around in his car with a sign that read, “Girls Rights Matter.” The students at Hillsboro High School are also tweeting out discriminatory and hateful tweets such as:
Maybe school locker rooms should be gender neutral because kids don't know if they wanna have a wiener or a vag 🙂
— Anthony Sottung (@asottung20) August 31, 2015
OMG IM TIRED OF EVERYONE SAYING "but he is a girl and should be allowed in the girls facilities" 😑
GIRLS DONT HAVE WEINERS.
— Meredith Guthrie (@guthrie_mere) August 28, 2015
Though many people are fighting back against the ignorant tweets on Twitter and using the hashtag #Istandwithlila:
@guthrie_mere educate yourself & grow some compassion & be thankful your gender identity matches your biological sex.
— Nicole (@nicoleunacriss) September 1, 2015
@guthrie_mere – So do you inspect every person who enters the girls locker room for the "approved" parts or are you just singling out Lila?
— Brad (@bilfus01) September 1, 2015
As for Troy school districts, a few parents also stood outside with signs protesting the bathroom change. One mom said, “We’re not being nasty. We’re just standing here holding signs.” However, there were also many parents who stood in support of the new bathroom policy. One parent said, “I think it’s utterly ridiculous actually that we have to come out here and support a child in expressing themselves and living as they want to.”
The sad fact remains that many parents and students are very ignorant when it comes to understanding what it means to be transgender. As Lila Perry said, “I’m not going to hurt their daughters. I’m not going to expose myself. I’m not a pervert; I’m a transgender woman; I’m a girl. I’m just in there to change, do my business, and that if they have any questions about being transgender, they are more than welcome to talk to me, and I’ll be happy to explain it.”
And surprise, there “has never been a documented case of any student — transgender or otherwise — taking advantage of the gender identity protections to violate someone else’s privacy” according to Thinkprogress. It’s clear that there is a lack in education on the part of students and parents which makes discussions about the LGBT community and bullying in schools so important.
The National Center for Transgender Equality stated, “We applaud school officials in Hillsboro, MO, Troy, OH, and in states and districts across the country who are following Title IX’s equal opportunity mandate and understand that it extends to all parts of school. That includes something as basic as using the restroom without being singled out and isolated.”
We applaud Troy’s school district and Hillsboro High too. We hope that you stand strong in the face of adversity because the lives and rights of transgender students are just as important as other students and they (and we!) will always remember you for courageously protecting them.