A group of high school boys in the town of North Pole, Ala., (yes, you read that correctly), apparently took offense to a transgender student’s use of their bathroom and decided to protest by crashing the girl’s room.
boneheaded oh-so-thoughtful decision got one of the boys kicked in the groin by a girl who was using the facilities at the time.
Now, the girl has been expelled for using “violence” to resolve conflict. Her family, as well as a state lawmaker, is calling foul, saying girls should be allowed to defend themselves as they see fit when they feel threatened.
And the school district has been pulled into a resultant conversation about its policy when it comes to its treatment of trans students and gender equity in general.
Schools Superintendent Karen Gaborik is defending the schools’ handling of the incident, saying violence simply can’t be tolerated even if students believe they were defending themselves.
“We don’t advocate violence as a means for students to attain safety,” Gaborik told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. “If a student does use force, we have to evaluate that incident.”
She says about a dozen transgender students have attended North Pole High over the last few years, and have generally been accepted by their peers. According to the Washington Post, she explained that when it comes to using of the bathroom, transgender students:
can choose to use a gender-neutral, single-stall bathroom that corresponds with the student’s gender identity, or the one that corresponds with the student’s gender at birth
But critics are taking aim at the district’s call in this case.
As the Washington Post reports:
Mikki Kendall, a Chicago-based feminist writer, questioned on Twitter in one widely shared tweet, why after all of the “bathroom panic bills about trans kids, when a group of cis boys actually harass girls in a bathroom the girls are punished for defending themselves?”
And Alaska state Rep. Tammie Wilson, representing the North Pole, weighed in as well when, during an unrelated news conference Friday, she said the girl shouldn’t have been punished and that the district was sending the wrong message to girls.
“If you ever feel threatened for your safety, whatever force you think you have to give, I will stand behind you,” Wilson said, the News-Miner reports.