Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Need Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Need Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

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Stone Myers started this petition to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and

It shouldn't be a hassle just to use the bathroom.

   On November 28th, 2018, a female transgender teen was kicked out of a Osseo Senior High School girl's restroom in Minnesota. Despite doing nothing wrong, the school's staff had forced the student's stall door open while she was sitting on the toilet, invading her privacy. Recording the altercation on her phone, the trans girl was forced to leave campus by Principal Michael Lehan and his staff, leaving her feeling scared and violated. She later took the footage and posted the videos on social media to voice her concern and share her story, which ended up going viral. These videos (Warning: Explicit Language) issued a response from Principal Lehan, saying: "I am aware of social media posts that significantly misrepresent an incident that occurred at school...we work every day to create an inclusive school where students feel welcome and respected. Our staff regularly works with individual students and families who have varying needs, including needs related to identity." However, if all students are respected, then why was this transgender student thrown out of the bathroom she felt safe in? Respectability shouldn't exclude the LGBT community under any circumstance.

   According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, 59% of trans students have been denied access to restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

   With over half of the trans youth not even able to use the bathroom at their own schools, it is even more unfortunate that almost half of the United States is against the entire transgender community using public bathrooms. The House Bill 2 (HB2) was a bill passed that banned transgender citizens from using the restroom that they felt matched with their gender identity. Along with North Carolina and its HB2 bathroom law, there are 21 other states that also oppose the use of public restrooms by transgenders. Some of these states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) has taken progressive steps towards equality with transgender students and which bathrooms that they are to use. In summer of 2016, CMS enforced a broadened anti-bullying policy that gave trans students the right to use whichever restroom that corresponded with their gender identity. However, this received massive backlash from parents who assume that the transgender community is conceived of perverse and corrupt people. Numerous emails were sent to the then CMS Superintendent Ann Clark on negative feelings towards transgender students using the same restroom as their cisgender peers. (An example of this can be found here.) Will it ever be possible to appeal to both sides of this controversy, or at least find a common ground?

   There is a possible solution: a gender-neutral, single use bathroom, in which both cisgender and transgender people can use. This would be a restroom that is not only free of any gender-binary labels, but also does not alienate trans/non-binary students. It creates a safe place for any person who wishes to use that bathroom regardless of sex, gender, or gender identity.

   This can only be accomplished with the help of Superintendent Dr. Clayton M. Wilcox, the CMS Board of Education and CMS Management Team. With the power in their hands to make this a reality, it is imperative that we, as a society, bring it to their attention. 

  If transgender students are constantly ridiculed and bullied for using the same bathrooms as cisgender people, yet are denied their own bathroom, then let's meet at the middle with a bathroom that everybody can use. Period.

  

Transgender teen posts video of school staff opening bathroom stall on her - Caitlin O'Kane, CBS News

Principal's Message to Families Regarding the Nov. 28 Incident - Principal Michael Lehan

Emails reveal outrage, support after CMS transgender policy announced last summer - Bill Melugin, FOX 46

Understanding HB2: North Carolina’s newest law solidifies state’s role in defining discrimination - Michael Gordon, The Charlotte Observer

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