- The Magazine
A Michigan school district has condemned remarks on social media by a teacher who complained about her school providing restroom accommodations for transgender students.
The controversy started with a Facebook post from Holly Davis, an art teacher at Lakeshore High in Stevensville, Mich. Davis wrote: “Teachers at Lakeshore High School no longer have a ‘staff’ bathroom because of the one or two transgender students in the building that ‘need’ their own bathroom…apparently their bathroom is more important than the teachers that teach them.”
Davis’s comments earned backlash from some community members who found her post discriminatory and hurtful.
“What Ms. Davis doesn’t seem to understand is that there’s a lot of kids who aren’t out as trans. So she thinks there’s one or two trans students. I know so many because she’s a teacher that students don’t trust,” Megan Hollerbach, a senior at Lakeshore High School and president of the school’s GSA, a support club for LGBTQ students, told NBC affiliate WNDU.
Davis’s comments also underscore the lack of understanding surrounding the larger situation. As public schools increasingly encounter more children identifying as transgender or nonbinary, they become obligated to provide reasonable accommodations for those students, especially as it relates to restroom and changing facilities. But many schools, especially those that are older, aren’t equipped with single-stall or gender-neutral restrooms, or the space to build them. As a result, schools have been forced to make faculty bathrooms available for use by transgender students.
Additionally, there is irony in the fact that those who are hostile to transgender rights, while objecting to the use of faculty bathrooms to accommodate trans students, would also likely oppose the easiest solution to that problem: allow transgender students to use the restroom matching their gender identity, rather than building gender-neutral facilities.
Lakeshore Public Schools Superintendent Phil Freeman criticized Davis’s Facebook post as factually inaccurate.
“We had a couple of single-stall bathrooms that were at one time staff bathrooms that we just made into single-stall use bathrooms for anybody who felt more comfortable using a single-stall restroom,” Freeman said. “They have access to their own staff bathrooms — they have access to these bathrooms.”
He also criticized the Facebook post as undermining the school district’s mission of putting students first, adding that the district took “swift and severe” disciplinary action afterwards.
“We’re behind our students 100%, and to have a single employee that makes a statement that begins to undermine what we’re doing here as a group and as a community to support our students is very frustrating,” Freeman added. “I guess in the simplest terms, I’m angry about it.”
Freeman, along with School Board President Dr. Jason Beckrow, released a statement clarifying the details of the district’s decision to repurpose the single-stall bathrooms as gender-neutral units accessible by anyone, and expressing support for transgender students enrolled in Lakeshore Public Schools.
“First and foremost, let us say, YES! This decision was made to support our transgender students — along with every other student, staff and visitor in our schools. It demonstrates our commitment to accessibility and support for everyone,” the statement reads, as reported by local radio station WSJM.
“We are saddened that the work that we have done hand-in-hand with our LGBTQ students and their families to create an accepting and supportive environment are now undermined and damaged so severely by a single voice,” the statement continues. “We recognize that transgender and gender-nonconforming students are often marginalized and face unfortunate obstacles within our school walls and in the community at large. The District is committed to mending the wounds created through this insensitive and hurtful post and will work with our students and their families to assure that a mantra of acceptance and support continues to be at the foundation of our work.”
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