Metro Weekly

Trans student barred from shelter during Virginia school’s mass shooter drill

School administrators couldn't decide whether the student should be sheltered with boys or girls, so left her outside

Source: Ted Eytan – Flickr

A transgender student was separated from her peers during a mass shooter drill at a Virginia middle school, as school administrators debated where to send her.

A “lockdown” drill at Stafford County Middle School, designed to teach the students how to respond in case of an attack, required students to seek shelter in the nearest bathroom or locker room.

However, the transgender student, whose identity has been withheld, was instead forced to sit in the gym while the other students sought shelter, while teachers “discussed where she should go,” Equality Stafford said in a Facebook post.

After debating where would be safest for the student to shelter — during a drill designed to mimic the response to an active shooter — teachers ultimately told her to sit in the locker room hallway, away from the other students.

“The student was forced to watch the adults charged with her care, debate the safest place (for the other students) to have her shelter,” Equality Stafford wrote. “During this debate, she was instructed to sit in the gym with a teacher until the drill was complete, away from her peers and identified as different. After some additional debate, she was made to sit in the locker room hall way [sic], by the door away from her peers.”

Equality Stafford slammed the school’s response, noting that they essentially treated the student as a danger to the other students.

“During an event that prepares children to survive an attack by actual assailants, she was treated as if she was so much of a danger to peers that she was left exposed and vulnerable,” they wrote.

Stafford County Middle School’s spokesperson Sherrie Johnson issued a statement following outcry over the school’s actions.

“The new superintendent has requested a review of all protocols and procedures to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and respect,” said Johnson. “We take such matters very seriously and they will be addressed. The welfare of all students is of the utmost importance for SCPS.”

Equality Stafford is urging parents and students to attend the county’s school board meeting on Oct. 9 to “lend your voice to the growing cry.”

“This is unacceptable, this cannot happen to one more child,” they wrote. “Not one more in this county. Not ever again.”

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify the student’s location.

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

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