Scores of students took a stand for trans rights by staging a massive walkout after one of their classmates was blocked from the girls’ locker room and toilets.
The protest kicked off at Temple High School in Texas on Wednesday (30 September) in support of a 16-year-old trans girl named Kendall Tinoco after she shared her experience on Instagram.
Over the past few years I’ve been in transition, to be more specific I’ve been using the females restroom since the 7th grade. Teachers and staff has had no issue with it until now, earlier this month I was told I couldn’t use the locker room because there were ‘actual girls’ in there,” the high school junior wrote in the post.
“However today [22 September] yet again my teacher mentioned I could not use the locker room because I am trans.
“I mentioned to her that I have a form specifically saying she has no right to tell a student that let alone tell them what locker room or restroom to use,” she added.
The post quickly went viral with more than 4,000 likes, and a week later her fellow students marched out of their classes in protest.
Tinoco told local news station 6 News: “Overall, I was really proud to see all of the people come together and stand for one another. Just support after support after support. It was really amazing.
“I fought for my place to be treated equally, and people are aware of that”.
“I just wanted to help make a change, do whatever I could,” said junior student Akayla Shahan.
“We said what we had to say. We will not be silenced,” added Stevie Williams, another student.
So many people joined the protest that additional security and members of the local police force were called to campus to “help ensure the safety of staff and students”, according to Temple Independent School District spokesperson Christine Parks. She noted that protests are allowed, but skipping class is not.
Parks told 6 News that the high school administration met with the student and parent that week to review the district’s Enrollment of Transgender Students guidelines.
These guidelines require students to be identified by their “legal surname” as it appears on the student’s birth certificate or other identity document and to dress in accordance with school dress codes.
They also require that all trans students have access to a “gender-neutral” restroom, locker room and/or overnight facility, like a nurse’s office.