WLOS is reporting that girls at an Asheville, N.C. school do not feel safe because boys are entering female bathrooms, causing students to walk out in protest yesterday.
In 2017, the Board of Education adopted new Gender Support Guidelines, written to protect students from “harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying,” which allows students to use the bathrooms of their preferred gender.
“I don’t feel safe going to school at all,” North Buncombe HS Junior Sylvia Gardner told WLOS. “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.”
Buncombe County School officials say Gardner is not interpreting the guidelines correctly.
“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,” said Buncombe County Schools Student Services Director David Thompson.
Despite the convoluted explanation by Thompson, Gardner said she doesn’t want boys using private females facilities.
“I don’t have a problem with people identifying as the opposite sex, at all, this is not what this is about,” Gardner told WLOS. “They can be whatever they want to be. That’s completely up to them. I just don’t want them coming in on us.”
The walk out and student fury caused Buncombe County School Superintendent Tony Baldwin to send a phone message to parents “explaining the situation.”
Many parents took to Facebook yesterday in support of the student walkout.
“Good for them,” Audrey Teal wrote, “we all need to take a stand for honor and integrity.”
Brett Herndon expressed a deeper outrage over the guidelines, writing, “If my daughter is in the bathroom and guys walk in he’s gong to be spitting teeth.”
The controversial guidelines prevent teachers from disclosing a student’s preferred gender to his or her parents. Transgender students can use whatever “restrooms, locker rooms or changing rooms” of their liking, and can even freely alternate between male and female facilities.
The transgender student can also demand a “private area” for restroom use – which must be available “in a non-stigmatizing way.”
In addition, teachers must address the transgender student “by the name and pronoun that corresponds to the student’s gender identity that is consistently asserted at school.”
Teachers are informed that non-conforming gender students have a variety of ways they want to be addressed.
“Some examples these students may use to refer to themselves include, but are not limited to, trans, transgender, male-to-female (MTF), female-to-male (FTM), genderqueer, non- binary, gender fluid, two-spirit, trans boy, and trans girl,” the guidelines inform teachers.
The guidelines do not specify whether teachers that fail to comply with guidelines will face suspensions or firings, but does encourage teachers to be “proactive” in the “understanding of gender identity.”