Photo: Nikolai Nolan, via Wikimedia.
An Alaskan teenager who tried to storm the girls’ bathroom in an anti-transgender protest found out how painful bigotry can be when a female student kicked him in the groin.
The incident at North Pole High School occured after a transgender student posted a selfie from the boys’ bathroom on Snapchat, Buzzfeed News reports.
A group of male students were “upset about the public nature of the post and restroom use,” according to Dr. Karen Gaborik, superintendent of Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.
Their response was to try and protest the trans student by entering the girls’ restroom to take their own photo.
One of the boys — whose identity, along with those of the other students, has been withheld — posted an error-filled message on Snapchat demanding that other male students should “identify as a women [sic] and use the women’s bathroom if you want this shit to end.”
“My foster dad called the school and they said they camt do anything because she identify as men so if we identify as Women and use the girls bathroom we are set so let’s do it, don’t do it to be an asshole we are doing it to boycot this billshit,” he wrote, apparently without either autocorrect or a dictionary. “He says he wants us to change it. I’m not going in any restroom until this is fixed so sounds like a plan.”
A call-to-action from one of the boys involved in the protest
However, when the boys tried to enter the girls’ bathroom during their protest, they were met by a female student who was trying to leave the restroom.
Unable to pass, she kicked the lead boy in the groin, which caused the other members of the group to leave.
The boy was reportedly referred for medical treatment by a school aide.
While the seven boys involved were reportedly disciplined for trying to enter the restroom, the girl has been “expelled indefinitely,” according to her family.
The girl’s sister posted a tweeted saying the boy had blocked her in the restroom, hence her response.
In a Facebook post, the girl said she was “scared” by the boys — some of whom were apparently 18 — being in the bathroom with her.
“These guys (and men some were 18) came into the female bathroom and scared me,” she wrote. “And in a reaction I kneed him. I didn’t even know what I did till after. I was scared. There was no way for me to leave the bathroom or I would have.”
However, Gaborik said the school does not “advocate physical or psychological violence as a means to attain safety.”
“If a student uses force against another student or against staff, that use of force is evaluated for potential discipline under the self-defense laws of the State and the facts and circumstances of the incident,” she said in a statement.
State Rep. Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole) took a different view while speaking with reporters at the state capital, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
“I don’t care why the boys were in the bathroom,” she said. “I heard there was some kind of protest going on, but doesn’t matter. I just wanted to make sure I had this opportunity to tell those young ladies at North Pole High School…if you ever feel threatened for your safety, whatever force you think you have to give, I will stand behind you. And so will our community.”
She added that she told the girl’s family “good for her” for kicking the boy, and that she “would have taught my daughter to do the same.”
“If you ever feel threatened for your safety,” she said to girls who might find themselves in similar situations, “whatever force you think you have to give, I will stand behind you.”
Wilson said that the girl’s expulsion sends the “wrong message,” and that while trying to protest a transgender student the boys ended up “violating someone else.”
Buzzfeed reports that the girl will fight her expulsion at a school district hearing later this week.
Gaborik said that the school district has “numerous” transgender students and staff members, with at least 16 transgender students at North Pole high in the past three years.
“When a student identifies as transgender in our district, the student (and often the family) work with school counselors and administration to determine how to best meet that student’s educational needs,” Gaborik said in her statement.
She added: “The conversation includes use of restrooms. Each situation is addressed individually.”
Some transgender students opt for single-person or gender-neutral restrooms, others “continue to use the restroom of their birth gender,” and some, like the student who first posted the selfie, use those that correspond with their gender identity.
“The entire school community needs to work together to ensure that all students feel welcomed, safe and are able to learn and thrive,” Gaborik said. “We recognize that parents, students and members of our community feel strongly about these issues, but advocating for the use of violence does not contribute to a safe learning environment.”