HONESDALE, Pa. — A high school student in Pennsylvania has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights after a male student who identifies as female was permitted to change his clothes in the girls’ locker room.
The unnamed female complainant, who attends Honesdale High School, outlined in a video posted to social media that she was changing her clothes before gym class in September 2018 when she heard a male voice, and turned to see the student, also partially undressed, looking at her.
“I glanced down and I could tell that he was wearing women’s underwear and what was underneath it,” she stated. “When I knew that a man was looking at me, I felt very violated and very scared, especially [since he was] looking at me while I am getting dressed.”
According to the complaint filed with the Department of Education, the male student is “female attracted” as he “has been seen at school events holding hands with girls.”
The girl told her parents what had occurred, who in turn called the principal and superintendent and were advised that the district attorney had counseled them to allow students to use the locker room that correlates with their gender identity.
However, officials sought to address the concern by approaching the male student and asking him to change behind a shower curtain. The female complainant was also permitted to wait outside of the locker room until after the male student exited.
Her attorney, Andrea Shaw of Carlisle, says that the arrangement did not completely assuage the concerns.
“This hardly remedied the girls’ right to privacy, because the female attracted male student can still view all of the girls while they are in various stages of undress [as he walks through the locker room],” the complaint reads.
“Second, … [w]hile she was no longer required to remove her clothing in front of a male student, her only option was to take refuge outside of the locker room, a place designated by state law to be used exclusively by her sex, while the male student used the girls’ locker room,” it states.
While the female student no longer has gym class with the male student, she does still have to share the locker room with him as both run cross country, and says that she has decided to “hide while she changes her clothes.”
Her attorney contends that the entire reason that there are separate male and female locker rooms and restrooms is so that girls and boys can feel that they have the privacy to undress without being in the presence of the opposite sex.
“All girls in the Wayne Highlands schools, once they learn of the school’s practice … will have reason to fear that they cannot participate in school life without being at risk of loss of their bodily privacy and without fear and apprehension of being confronted by a male in a private setting for girls,” the complaint reads. “The school’s practice thus creates a hostile environment for girls.”
Wayne Highlands School District Superintendent Gregory Frigoletto told local television station WNEP that he is not able to comment on the case, but stated that district policy is in consonance with a recent court ruling permitting students to use the facilities that correlate with their gender identity.