During Tuesday’s meeting of the Mineral County Board of Education, three parents shared with the body their fears about the harm that would befall their children if transgender kids were permitted to use the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity alongside the cisgender youth.
While every parent wants to protect their child, many of these parents’ stated concerns were based on misinformation. Further, transgender children are generally the ones more at risk of being harmed in a school setting.
During the meeting, Superintendent Troy Ravenscroft reiterated the policy issued by the United States Supreme Court regarding trans students’ rights to use the restroom.
“In short: transgender students are allowed to use the restroom matching their gender identity,” Ravenscroft said.
Ravenscroft said the policy doesn’t mean “that any student, on any given day, may use whichever restroom they would like to.” The superintendent explained that once a child comes out to faculty and staff as transgender, they discuss topics including their preferred name and which bathroom they would prefer to use. Many trans students, Ravenscroft said, choose to use single-stall bathrooms located in the schools rather than the larger gendered restrooms. That point did not appear to be given any consideration by the parents who spoke at the meeting.
Two parents said that their respective daughters were afraid to use the restroom if trans kids were permitted access. According to a 2019 school climate survey conducted by the nonprofit GLSEN, 9.5% of students polled reported being assaulted for their gender expression in the last year. Additionally, 45% said they avoided school bathrooms and 43% avoided locker rooms.
While one parent said her daughter claimed “rape was going to go up” if transgender students were permitted in restrooms, a high amount of trans students report being physically or sexually assaulted.
According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, the most recent available, “the majority of respondents who were out or perceived as transgender while in school (K–12) experienced some form of mistreatment, including being verbally harassed (54%), physically attacked (24%) and sexually assaulted (13%) because they were transgender. Further, 17% experienced such severe mistreatment that they left a school as a result.”
Nearly 57% of students also reported in the school climate survey that they didn’t inform faculty of harassment or assault, and 60% who chose to report an incident said that school staff did nothing in response.
Transgender students deserve the same respect and privacy as anyone else, and should be able to use whichever bathroom they prefer.