“It’s amazing to think that one quick trip to the bathroom can change your life,” a student at Boyertown Area Senior High School in Pennsylvania wrote after being forced to share bathrooms with members of the opposite sex.
When students who were uncomfortable with the change spoke up, the school basically told them to deal with it.
In an op-ed published in The Inquirer, Alexis Lightcap, a student at the high school, writes that she was told by a school administrator to “tolerate it” and “make it as natural as possible.”
“I was a junior in high school when I ducked into the girls’ room at school one day to find … a boy. I froze. Three years at this particular school, and that had never happened to me before,” she explained.
Lightcap pointed out that the girls’ bathroom had always been “a place for her for privacy,” as well as “get away from boys,” not to run into them.
“The girls’ bathroom had always been the girls’ getaway place — a place for privacy, mostly, but also a little refuge — a place to get away from boys, maybe talk about boys, but not meet boys,” she added.
The new bathroom rule took effect in the 2016 school year after the school decided to let biological boys use the girls’ bathroom and vice versa.
Parents and students protested against the rule change and filed a lawsuit against the school district. The students and parents lost the case and brought it to the court of appeals. They then lost Doe v. Boyertown Area School District in the court of appeals, The Christian Post reported..
The Doe v. Boyertown Area School District case was between the school district and a few students that objected to the new bathroom policy. One of the co-plaintiffs was a male student who had an extremely uncomfortable experience when he came across an undressed female student in the boys’ locker room.
Students have spoken out about their experiences, especially in the locker rooms.
In her piece, Lightcap explains that when she told a teacher and the principal about running into a boy in the girls’ room, she was ignored.
“I soon found out I wasn’t the only one caught off guard by this new, ‘open door’ policy. A boy at our school was in the middle of changing clothes in the boys’ locker room when he looked up to see a girl changing her clothes nearby,” she writes, referring to the plaintiff in Doe v. Boyertown Area School District.
“Movies and TV try to make that sound funny or sexy, but that’s not how it feels when it happens to you. It’s just embarrassing, awkward, and uncomfortable,” Lightcap says.
She adds that even though multiple students have gone to the school administration regarding their uncomfortable experiences, the administrators “really didn’t care about our concerns.”
“The administrator he talked to just told him to ‘tolerate it’ — to ‘make it as natural as possible.’ How do you make something as unnatural as that ‘natural?’ How natural would you feel, having someone of the opposite sex standing next to you — or your child — while you change clothes or go to the bathroom?” Lightcap asks.
Lightcap also adds that if the school was going to change the policy, they should have at least informed both parents and students of the school. She says a large part of the reason she became a co-plaintiff on the Doe v. Boyertown Area School District case was because the school ignored her concerns when she initially reported them.
So far, the lawsuit has been unsuccessful in making any change. After the court of appeals recently sided with the school district, the plaintiffs are now looking into a next step.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which is infamous for intervening in transgender cases, argued that the school district was doing exactly what it should be: protecting the rights of all students.
“Policies and practices that support transgender students are absolutely crucial to promote the best outcomes for children,” Mary Catherine Roper, deputy legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said in a statement last year.
“We’re hopeful that this sends another signal to schools in Pennsylvania and around the country that they need to implement policies that respect students’ gender identity,” Roper added.
This isn’t a brand new topic of discussion, as many predicted situations like this after President Barack Obama altered Title IX rules. Schools across the country were told that they couldn’t segregate bathrooms based on biological sex, and if they did they would be faced with sex discrimination charges.
The Trump administration rescinded this policy, arguing that it did not fall under presidential jurisdiction. Last February, then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated that “the president has maintained for a long time that this is a states’ rights issue and not one for the federal government.”
Despite the policy change, Lightcap notes how the media are portraying the students in an extremely negative light, with many referring to those who object to the bathroom rule “bigots” and “religious extremists.”
“I guess it’s always easier to label people than to think about where they’re coming from,” she writes.
“I don’t have a problem sharing a bathroom with someone who identifies as transgender — provided they are the same sex I am,” Lighthouse concludes. “I do have trouble with a policy that says anyone who’s in an opposite-sex mood today can stroll in and observe me in my intimate moments — and with school officials who value the feelings of a few students more than the dignity and privacy of all those in their care.”
(H/T: The Christian Post)