• April 19, 2024

High School Students Walk Out Over Transgender Controversy . . . And (HINT) They Weren’t In Support Of Him/Her

Hypocrisy oozes over the latest transgender controversy in a high school outside of St. Louis, in Hillsboro. While the rest of the country is being conditioned to accept and embrace the transgender proviso, students at one high school, in fly over country, are pushing back. At least, in this high school, some attention is afforded to the feelings of the people whose privacy is being violated to “accommodate” an “alternative” lifestyle.

In the middle of last school year, Lila Perry came out as transgender. Before that, she had been living as a gay male.

But that’s not who she really was. No longer was she going to pretend, Lila said.

So this year, she told teachers and administrators at Hillsboro High School, where she is a senior, that she would no longer be content to use a unisex faculty bathroom. She wanted to be treated like other female students, including access to bathrooms and locker rooms for girls.

Her decision spread quickly through the small Jefferson County school district and, on Monday morning, students at Hillsboro High School walked out in protest. During the walkout, Lila was locked in the principal’s office. She said she and administrators worried about her safety.

The student walkout came on the heels of a School Board meeting Thursday that drew a large crowd — parents concerned that Lila is getting special rights at the expense of other students. Most of the students at Monday’s protest were opposed to accommodations for her. A smaller group gathered in support.

But, lo-and-behold, the girls have rights, too! Imagine that!

“The girls have rights, and they shouldn’t have to share a bathroom with a boy,” said Tammy Sorden, who has a son at Hillsboro High. It is fine to be different, she said, but it is not right to give Lila special treatment “while the girls just have to suck it up.”

Students and parents interviewed after the walkout were overwhelmingly in support of keeping Lila, 17, out of the school facilities for girls.

But the school’s gay-straight alliance and other supporters held a counterprotest to show that not everyone is in agreement. Some students on both sides left after school administrators broke up the protest. Supporters of Lila said they did not feel comfortable going back into the school.

Opponents said leaving school was a continuation of showing their position.

Lila said she has dropped out of her physical education class because there is little supervision and that makes her uncomfortable. And she rarely uses the bathroom now while at school. Still, Lila said, she should be able to use the facilities girls use.

“I wasn’t hurting anyone. I didn’t want to be in something gender-neutral,” she said, referring to the faculty bathroom administrators encouraged her to use. “I am a girl. I am not going to be pushed away to another bathroom.”

The issue isn’t accepting a transgender male/female into the community, it’s about how forcing his/her issues on the community violate the rights of others.

Several people interviewed outside Hillsboro High on Monday argued that a student who still has male genitalia should not be allowed into a changing room with teenage girls.

“I’m not comfortable with it,” said Britney Heimos, a 2008 Hillsboro graduate who was at the school to pick up her brother. “There is nothing wrong with being different. But when you are different, there are sacrifices.”

Jeff Childs, of Farmington, holds a sign on Old Highway 21 as students leave Hillsboro High School after a student walkout was held on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, in support and in opposition to transgender student Lila Perry’s request to use the girls locker room. Photo by Robert Cohen, [email protected]

Shortly after the protest, Jeff Childs, 47, and his son, Blayke, 21, both of Farmington, drove onto the high school parking lot with “Girls Rights Matter” painted on the sides and tailgate of the Ford pickup. When they were told by police to leave, they went to a Dollar General store, bought poster boards and markers and made signs that they held at the busy entrance to the high school.

“This needs to stop before it goes too far,” said Childs, who has a niece and a nephew who go to an elementary school in Hillsboro. “I’m not trying to be ignorant, but (the transgender student) is bringing it out in public for everybody else to deal with.”

Skyla Thompson, 16, refers to Lila as her best friend. She said Lila often stays at Skyla’s house overnight while Lila’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 Lila.

Lila wears a long brown wig, with bobby pins keeping the hair from her eyes. On Monday, her outfit included a short blue skirt and wedges.

“She is choosing her life to better herself, to better accept herself,” said friend Gianna Warfel, 16. “I don’t know what there is to discriminate about that. I really support the bravery she has.”

Hopkins, of the Missouri School Boards’ Association, said she is having to explain to school boards with more frequency how the federal government views treatment of transgender students.

“I got no calls on this five years ago,” she said. “I’ve gotten at least half a dozen recently.”

Read the St. Louis Post Dispatch for more:

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