Students at Hillsboro High School in Hillsboro, Missouri, staged a walkout Monday to protest a transgender student who is being permitted by the school to use the facility's women's restrooms, despite being a biological male.
The controversy began after a transgender student, "Lila" Perry, (Perry's birth name was not listed in any news reports.) told school administrators that she was no longer comfortable using a unisex faculty bathroom that she had been given access to and wanted to be able to use the women's bathrooms and locker room facilities.
The protest came following a School Board hearing last Thursday, during which parents complained that Perry was being afforded special rights that would make their children and other students uncomfortable.
During the protest, Perry was locked in the principal's office for "her" safety.
According to reports, the overwhelming majority of those protesting opposed Perry's use of the women's facilities, although there were a few counter-protesters present protesting in support of Perry.
Several of those interviewed during the protest shared their concerns about a student with male genitalia being permitted to change and shower with teenage girls.
“The girls have rights, and they shouldn't have to share a bathroom with a boy,” said Tammy Sorden, who has a son at Hillsboro High. It is fine to be different, she said, but it is not right to give Lila special treatment “while the girls just have to suck it up.”
The debate over allowing those who consider themselves transgender to use opposite-sex bathroom facilities in public schools is playing itself out despite the fact that the laws surrounding the ability of schools to refuse such an accommodation remain unclear.
"Districts that refuse to allow students to use a bathroom for the gender with which they identify could run afoul of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights," said Kelli Hopkins of the Missouri School Boards’ Association. However, there is no law or statute in the state of Missouri that says denying a student the ability to use opposite-sex bathrooms is against the law.
Despite the outrage, Perry remains insistent that school officials continue to allow her access to the girl's room.
"I wasn’t hurting anyone. I didn’t want to be in something gender-neutral,” said Perry. “I am a girl. I am not going to be pushed away to another bathroom.”
"I think this is pure and simple bigotry I think they are using their claim they are uncomfortable, to target me a transgender woman."