Students from Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa staged a walkout in protest (and support) of a transgender student seeking to use the girl’s restroom.
About 60 students left their classrooms the morning of Thursday, 11 April. The students split up into two groups. Those who oppose the trans student using the restroom aligning with her gender identity, and those who support it.
The Omaha World-Herald reports that the ‘support’ group chanted things like ‘equality’. Meanwhile, the ‘oppose’ group chanted ‘We want our privacy, he is a male’ and ‘One over all is not fair’.
According to Council Bluffs Community School District Superintendent Vicki Murillo, the walkout stemmed from female students who did not feel comfortable sharing the girl’s restroom with a trans woman.
‘I was very proud of how the students peacefully conducted themselves. It’s important to us to let students express their opinions as long as it’s done in a respectful way,’ Murillo said.
The walkout, which lasted 15 minutes, did not result in any disciplinary measures for the participating students.
Policies on trans students
The Council Bluffs school district’s policy on transgender students follows the U.S. Department of Education’s guidelines, laid out in ‘Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students.’
‘Schools often segregate restrooms and locker rooms by sex. But some schools have policies that students must be permitted to access facilities consistent with their gender identity and not be required to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or alternative facilities,’ the document reads.
Murillo states that there is a process in place between trans students and the school’s faculty to come to an understanding, allowing the students to use the facilities which align with their gender identity.
The school is currently working with the student in question to complete the vetting process, according to Diane Ostrowski, spokesperson for Council Bluffs Community Schools. This process may require some form of confirmation from their parents/guardians.
The high school also has gender-neutral restrooms, free for anyone to use. Additionally, counselors on staff are available to discuss gender identity and other issues with students.
‘We’ve never had an issue,’ Murillo said. She adds that no formal complaints have been filed over this situation by students, parents, or faculty.
‘We’ve had a speaker come in the past to talk with students about it. And we’re exploring the next step for more awareness.’