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Pennsylvania teen says trans students in locker room will make her fail gym class

Sigourney Coyle refuses to change in front of trans females

School Lockers, Photo: SickestFame / Flickr

School Lockers, Photo: SickestFame / Flickr

“I am a woman, and I identify as a woman, and you can’t make me change in front of someone who I don’t identify with, who is physically male.”

Sigourney Coyle, a middle school student in Pennsylvania, in testimony to the East Penn School Board. Coyle is arguing that, because of the Obama administration’s guidance on transgender students and her objection to sharing locker facilities with trans female students, she is going to fail gym class — and potentially not graduate from high school.

“Gym requires us to participate to pass high school and if I don’t change I am not allowed to participate,” she said. “So my options are to let myself be discriminated against or fail gym for not participating and not pass through high school, which would jeopardize my future.”

Buzzfeed news reports that Coyle’s mother Aryn tried to get her daughter exempted from gym class on religious grounds so that she wouldn’t have to change in front of a transgender student, but the principal told her that a “religious exemption from class only applies to health class due to sexuality content and not gym.”

“I have always been an advocate of any special arrangement that prevents any group of people from being mistreated based on who they are,” Aryn wrote on Facebook. “But I will NOT stand by while the law dictates that male bodies are allowed to walk into my daughter’s locker room, undress next to her, and shower alongside of her. Whether or not the male bodies are covered in pants or skirts is irrelevant. They have no place in her locker room.”

Speaking with Morning Call newspaper, neither Aryn nor Sigourney knew of any trans students at the school who were now using the female locker room.

“Although, how could you know?” Aryn said. “A person who was biologically male could waltz into the bathroom. So she felt very exposed and at risk.”

The Obama administration’s guidance mandates that school’s accommodate trans students by allowing them to use bathrooms, locker rooms and other facilities that correspond with the student’s gender identity.

“I also feel nothing against transgenders [sic],” Sigourney said. “I know some and I don’t have anything wrong with them. I would just not like their rights to overrule my own. We are equals. They are not better and I am not better.”

Coyle will be allowed to attend a summer gym class at Emmaus High School, letting her graduate to high school, a solution her mother called a “band-aid.”

Related: Gov. Matt Bevin is “pleased” Obama’s “absurd” trans guidance has been halted

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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