GLOUCESTER, Va. — A school district in Virginia has voted to enact a policy requiring students use the restroom that correlates with their biological gender.
“It shall be the practice of the (Gloucester County Public Schools) to provide male and female restroom and locker room facilities in its schools, and the use of said facilities shall be limited to the corresponding biological genders, and students with gender identity issues shall be provided an alternative private facility,” the approved policy reads.
The six to one vote came after controversy arose over a teenage girl at Gloucester High School who identifies as a boy and thus wishes to use the boy’s restroom at school.
Gavin Grimm, 15, told reporters earlier this month that she began using the boys’ restroom after obtaining permission from the school principal when she expressed disapproval over being forced to use the nurse restroom.
“I’m not a girl. I’m not using the girl’s restroom,” Grimm stated. So I said, ‘Hey, where can I use the restroom?’ … And so they said, ‘Use the nurse’s room,’ and at the time I was fine with that, because I was still afraid—I didn’t know how my peers would react. So, I didn’t want to push the envelope any further than I had to all at once.”
But she said that the option soon became a problem.
“The nurse’s office is at least a three minute walk from the class I have closest to it. It took a substantial amount of time out of my class time, and it was embarrassing,” Grimm said. “When you’re gone for 15 minutes at a time to use the bathroom, what are high schoolers gonna think? It’s humiliating and it’s alienating.”
So, the student asked the principal about the matter, who suggested that Grimm go ahead and use the boy’s restroom since she identifies as a boy. But some of the parents of the male students soon learned about the allowance, and the issue turned up before the school district.
Earlier this month, approximately 30 area residents spoke out at the district meeting, most of which supported the proposed policy requiring restroom use to correlate with one’s biological gender. According to the Daily Press, one male student said that some of his peers were afraid to express an opinion over the matter for fear that they would be perceived as haters.
“We do care,” he said. “Bathrooms and locker rooms are split based on physical genitalia for a reason.”
But after the board voted to approve the policy, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Education, alleging discrimination.
“Our school boards should be focused on making Virginia schools as inclusive and welcoming as possible,” remarked ACLU of Virginia legal director, Rebecca Glenberg. “This new policy will do the opposite. Forcing transgender students to use segregated facilities not only violates federal law, but is also intensely stigmatizing.”
The Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), however, sent a letter to Gloucester County Public Schools stating that it had made the proper decision for the well-being of all students. It also sent a sample policy for review.
“Any privacy and safety policy should respect all children because every child matters,” stated ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Rory Gray. “Both the GCPS policy and the ADF model policy demonstrate that schools can accommodate the desires of a small number of students without compromising the rights of other children and their parents.”