High school students staged a walk-out protest over trans-inclusive bathroom policy
Students at a North Carolina high school walked out in protest after rumours that the school’s trans-inclusive bathroom policy was being abused.
North Buncombe High School adopted Gender Support Guidelines in 2017, allowing transgender students to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender. The decision is made by school administration on a case-by-case basis.
Students began objecting to the policy after accusations that a male teacher has used the girl’s bathroom began circulating. Another rumour claimed that the sign on the girl’s bathroom had been removed as a result of the policy.
The school denied all rumours and stated that the sign had actually been removed in an act of student vandalism.
“There has never been a faculty member, a male faculty member, using any student restrooms there, nor has any school official taken down any signs on restrooms, that is an act a student did and it’s being addressed by school administration,” said student services director David Thompson in an interview with local news station WLOS.
But the damage had already been done, and students walked out of class on Monday, September 16, demanding a meeting with school superintendent Tony Baldwin.
Around a dozen of those students continued their protest at the Buncombe Country Schools central office.
One student, Sylvia Gardner, told WLOS: “I don’t feel safe going to school at all. Like, I wanted to get out of school for this. All they have to do is pretty much say they identify as a girl if they want and just walk in there.”
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Buncombe County Schools officials say this isn’t true, as trans students must first follow the interview process detailed in the Gender Support Guidelines before using the bathroom they identify with.
“Our policy looks at it on a case-by-case basis through an interview process to look at what can we do to provide support for that student as well as make sure they are in a safe secure learning environment,” explained Thompson.
A parent at the protest said: “I agree they should feel safe, I agree whatever [a transgender student’s] choice, their family deserves the same kind of support as any other child in that school.
“However, what I would like to see moving forward is seven pages supporting my non-transgender child,” she said, referring to the Gender Support Guidelines, which were developed specifically for transgender students.