Transgender student bullied in bathroom may be punished before boys who harassed him
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Murfreesboro mother is upset her transgender son could be punished after boys apparently harassed him in a school bathroom.
“I don’t understand why my son would be punished when he’s the victim of what to me is a hate crime,” said Sherri Yandle.
Tennessee’s new bathroom law for public schools makes it punishable for transgender students to be in a bathroom when others are present.
Sherri Yandle’s son used a boys restroom at Siegel High School on Monday. The transgender student has special permission to use the male faculty bathroom, but it was locked when he needed to use it.
“So he ducked into the boys room and went into the first stall he saw available. Then he said some boys started chanted trans-phobic slurs, and then it got louder and louder… they started hitting and kicking at the stall door, so Tobi had to use his back to brace it and then put his foot on the toilet to keep the door shut,” Yandle said.
An assistant principal intervened, but the boys were not immediately punished.
Yandle said she talked on the phone with that school official.
“She stated because of Governor Lee’s laws that the other students could sue the school if they didn’t like it that a transgender child [was] in the bathroom,” Yandle said.
Rutherford County Schools with Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office shared the following statement with NewsChannel5.
Although the school district has not been contacted directly by this parent, an assistant principal at the school has spoken with the student and the student’s mother concerning an alleged incident in the bathroom, although there are some variances in the story.
Rutherford County Schools does have a policy in place that allows students or employees to use private, single stall bathrooms if needed and requested. The state of Tennessee also has enacted a new law concerning transgender students and bathroom use, and the school district is required to follow this law.
However, the school district will investigate any allegations of sexual harassment or discrimination under the federal Title IX act.
Yandle believes the school is letting the law get in the way of their responsibility.
“They are not supposed to let any child be bullied, and all children are supposed to be safe when they go to school and in that instance, I feel like this school failed,” she said.
Currently, there is a federal lawsuit open on behalf of two other transgender Tennessee students. It claims the new law violates Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational settings.
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