HILLSBORO, Mo. (AP) — An effort by a transgender student to use the girls bathroom has split Hillsboro High School, with some of her peers walking out in protest and others holding a counter demonstration to show their support.
Lila Perry said she wants to be treated like other female students and told school administrators that she wasn't content in continuing to use a unisex faculty bathroom this year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1KY2XFD ) reported.
The 17-year-old's decision prompted some students to leave the campus Monday, following last week's School Board meeting in which parents expressed concern that Perry was receiving special rights at the expense of other students.
The school's gay-straight alliance and other supporters held their own protest to show their support for Perry.
Skyla Thompson said Perry, whom she calls her best friend, often stays at her house overnight while Perry's family tries to come to grips with their child identifying as transgender.
"She is such a good person. They are just judging her on the outside," Skyla said of those who have been critical of Perry.
Superintendent Aaron D. Cornman declined to comment to the newspaper on the issue, but gave a written statement that said the district respects the rights of all students and "appreciates the fact that the students we are educating are willing to stand on their belief system and to support their cause/beliefs through their expression of free speech."
His statement adds that the district accepts all students no matter their race, gender or sexual orientation.
"We will promote tolerance and acceptance of all students that attend our district while not tolerating bullying/harassing behaviors of any type in any form," the statement reads.
Perry said the school administration has been supportive and made her feel welcome. She said they have allowed her to use the facilities used by girls and women.
"I wasn't hurting anyone. I didn't want to be in something gender-neutral," she said, referring to the faculty bathroom. "I am a girl. I am not going to be pushed away to another bathroom."
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com