The 16-year-old said her teacher banned her from using the girls' locker room and bathroom because there were 'actual girls' in there.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of transphobia that may distress some readers
High school students walked out of a school in Texas in support of their 16-year-old transgender classmate who was denied access to the girls' locker room and bathroom. She was reportedly told by an unnamed teacher that she wasn't to use the bathrooms. The incident happened at Temple High School in Texas. The students walked out of class after the third period in solidarity with fellow classmate Kendall Tinoco, a 16-year-old trans girl in her junior year. "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," said Tinoco, reported 25 News KXXV. "I fought for my place to be treated equally, and people are aware of that."
Students voiced their support for Tinoco, and many told local media that they will not be silenced and do all they can to help make her case. The walkout was sparked by a viral Instagram post written by Tinoco detailing her experience at school. "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," she wrote. "Teachers and staff have 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. I let it slide thinking my teacher is transphobic and brushed it off, continuing to use it. However today [22 September] yet again my teacher mentioned I could not use the locker room because I am trans."
She also informed the teacher that she had no right to tell her that. "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 wrote. Her teacher insisted she change in a closet with a male dancer and she refused, stating that it was outside her comfort zone. The 16-year-old decided to take it up with higher authorities at school but was told the same thing. She also pointed out that the school's stand was not just affecting trans students. "If it was such a big deal to let a straight transgender female use the locker room, then what about lesbians and bisexuals. This is beyond disgusting and against the policy of the US Department of Education. I hope y'all understand how discriminatory this situation is," she wrote.
There were many videos posted of the students walking out of class in solidarity and many of them carried LGBTQ+ flags and chanted "Trans Lives Matter" in school halls. Temple Independent School District spokesperson Christine Parks said security was ramped up to help with the security of all those involved but added that "students have the right to peaceful protests." Parks continued, "However, if such activities result in student behaviors such as skipping class or leaving a classroom without permission, then these Student Code of Conduct violations will result in consequences as outlined in the Code of Conduct." Parks added that the high school administration met with Tinoco and her parent to review the district's Enrollment of Transgender Students guidelines.
As per the existing guidelines, trans students are to be identified by their "legal surname" as it appears on the student's birth certificate or another identity document "or in a court order that changes the student's name." They are required to dress in accordance with the school dress codes. The third point states, "In order to allow privacy for all students, a 'gender-neutral' restroom, locker room or changing area, and/or overnight facility (i.e. faculty unisex restrooms or nurse's office) will be available to any transgender student."
If you're trans and are being subjected to abuse, or need any help, please reach out to TRANS LIFELINE at 877-330-6366.