Earlier this week, more than a hundred students walked out of class at Hillsboro High School in St.Louis in protest at a the transgender teen’s use of the toilet and locker room. Parents – and those claiming to have students at the school – expressed their discontent.
“There’s a lot of ignorance, they are claiming that they’re uncomfortable. I don’t believe for a second that they are. I think this is pure and simple bigotry,” Lila Perry told local news station KMOV. Thankfully some students and parents turned out to support her.
Perry began feeling “more like a girl than a boy” at 13, and school officials gave her permission to use girls’ facilities when the new school year started.
“I wasn’t hurting anyone,” Perry said. “I didn’t want to be in something gender-neutral. I am a girl. I am not going to be pushed away to another bathroom.”
She declined the school’s offer of a gender-neutral locker room on principle, deciding to drop gym class altogether. She tries to avoid using the bathroom at school anyway, but when she does, uses the girls'.
Her friend, Gianna Warfel, 16, among others has been very supportive. “She is choosing her life to better herself, to better accept herself,” said Warfel. “I don’t know what there is to discriminate about that. I really support the bravery she has.”
Schools that refuse to allow students to use a bathroom for the gender with which they identify could be in conflict with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, according to Kelli Hopkins of the Missouri School Boards’ Association. Schools found to have violated a student’s civil rights are at risk of losing some of their federal funding.
Perry has been subjected to transphobia both at the protests and also online. She’s fighting back those on Twitter. “I’m hoping this dies down,” she told the New York Times. “I don’t want my entire senior year to be like this.”