South Carolina High School Shifts Transgender Bathroom Policy

(Image: WMBF News)

(Image: WMBF News)

After being threatened with a lawsuit, Horry County Schools in South Carolina agreed to allow a transgender student use the boys’ restroom, but only after he was suspended in January.

The Transgender Law Center (TLC), an organization that works on changing laws and policies so that all people can live equally, safely, authentically, and free from discrimination whatever their gender identity or expression, sent Horry County Superintendent Rick Maxey an email.

The Center warned that legal action would take place if a high school transgender student was not permitted to use the restroom that matches his identity. The student in question, identified as “R,” was barred from using the boys’ bathroom in October 2015, according to the email, writes Claire Byun for The State.

“I’m thrilled the district is changing its policy because for me this was always about all the younger transgender students who might not have the same support or ability to fight back like I did,” said “R” in an email. “We’re in school to learn, and we should be able to use the bathroom when we need to without worrying about a teacher following us or policing which bathroom we use.”

The district agreed to permit “R” to use the restroom that was consistent with his gender identity, declared Chairperson of the Board of Education Joe DeFeo. Officials also agreed to expunge “R’s” suspension from his record. They also informed faculty and staff that they were to use the pronouns consistent with transgender students gender identities and the names the students prefer.

Horry County Schools spokesperson Teal Harding could not discuss the district’s response to the TLC since personal information concerning individual students is protected by law.

She added, however, that the district already complied with Title IX regulations, which protects transgender students’ rights. Therefore, no policies needed to be rewritten.

South Carolina’s Berkeley County School District is one of the first districts in the state to open conversations concerning the controversial transgender restroom debates.

The Berkeley Observer’s Nikki Gaskins reports that officials in the district have let faculty members know that transgender students may use the bathroom that fits their gender identity.

Some parents agree with this decision entirely and are even expressing their approval on social media. But others disapprove and claim that the restroom policy is creating an unsafe environment for their children. They say they will be taking their grievances to the school board meeting on May 10th.

One parent remarked that if a person has a penis, that person should use the men’s room. Another stated that it might be time to homeschool.

In 2014, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights asserted that transgender students would be protected under Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination.

CNN Wire reports that “R” was followed into the restroom by a teacher, and his suspension was based on the fact that he would not use the girls’ wash room or the school nurse’s facilities.

“R” had been using the boys’ room throughout middle school and high school. It was during his senior year that a teacher complained, and he was told he could not enter the male bathrooms or locker rooms.

“R” has decided to enroll in online classes. He has improved his GPA since he left, and he is close to graduating early. “R’s” mother hopes what her son has gone through will help other transgender students in the school.