A Tennessee mother says she’s worried for the safety of her transgender son after he was harassed and threatened by a group of boys while using the boys’ bathroom. But it’s her son who could potentially face punishment as schools attempt to comply with a recently passed law governing transgender bathroom use.
Sherri Yandle, of Murfreesboro, claims her son, Tobi, a 16-year-old junior at Siegel High School, was given permission by the school to use single-stall faculty bathrooms. But when he found them locked, with no other alternatives, he decided to use the boys’ bathroom. Video footage from school security cameras backs up Tobi’s story that he only resorted to the boys’ bathroom after finding the faculty bathrooms locked.
“He ducked into the boys room and went into the first stall he saw available,” Yandle told CBS affiliate WTVF. “Then he said some boys started chanting transphobic slurs, and then it go louder and louder… They started hitting and kicking at the stall door, so Tobi had to use his back to brace it and then put his foot on the toilet to keep the door shut.”
Tobi texted a friend for help during the attack. Eventually, an assistant principal — later identified by news outlets as Lorie Gober — intervened to stop the abuse.
“When finally somebody came in to clear out the bathroom, the assistant principal found Tobi in the bathroom stall, crying, scared to death,” Yandle told the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. “I think the scenario going through Tobi’s head was they were going to physically harm him.”
Yandle says the assistant principal who intervened to protect Tobi did not immediately punish those involved, later telling Yandle that a new Tennessee law empowers the students who attacked her son to sue the school if they object to his presence in boys’ facilities.
“She stated because of Governor Lee’s laws that the other students could sue the school if they didn’t like it that a transgender child [was] in the bathroom,” Yandle said. “I’d like to see these boys held accountable for what they did to my son, regardless of the reason.”
Under the law, signed into effect by Gov. Bill Lee (R) earlier this year, schools can be sued by cisgender students or their parents for “psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered” if they become upset at seeing a transgender person using a multi-person bathroom or locker room that does not match their assigned sex at birth.
That law is currently being challenged by the Human Rights Campaign, which filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of two transgender students earlier this month seeking to block the law from being enforced and declare the law discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Yandle later contacted the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, which began an investigation into the harassment complaint.
James Evans, a spokesperson for Rutherford County Schools, said in a joint statement with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office that the school district will investigate any allegations of sexual harassment or discrimination under Title IX, the act prohibiting sex-based discrimination in educational institutions.
“Although the school district has not been contacted directly by this parent, an assistant principal at the school has spoken with the student and the student’s mother concerning an alleged incident in the bathroom, although there are some variances in the story,” the statement reads.
“Rutherford County Schools does have a policy in place that allows students or employees to use private, single stall bathrooms if needed and requested. The state of Tennessee also has enacted a new law concerning transgender students and bathroom use, and the school district is required to follow this law.”
It remains unclear whether any of the students involved in the attack will face criminal charges or discipline from school administrators.
Thus far, no disciplinary action has been taken against Tobi, either. But some critics of the new law fear it will give administrators significant leeway to punish transgender students in order to placate those with anti-LGBTQ views and avoid a costly lawsuit.
“I don’t understand why my son would be punished when he’s the victim of what to me is a hate crime,” Yandle said. “[The school is] not supposed to let any child be bullied, and all children are supposed to be safe when they go to school and in that instance, I feel like this school failed.”
A 20-year-old Spanish gay man who told police that an anti-gay mob carved a homophobic slur into his buttocks has reportedly recanted his claims.
The initial story sent shockwaves through the LGBTQ community in Spain's capital city of Madrid, after the man said he was cornered in the entrance to his home and attacked last week.
He claimed that a mob of eight people wearing face coverings yelled homophobic slurs, before using a knife to cut his lip and carve "faggot" into his buttock.
It led to condemnation from Spain's prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, and protests from LGBTQ people demanding better protections against increasing levels of violence.
By Rudy Malcom on October 13, 2021
New York City police are seeking a man who punched a woman in the face for holding hands with her girlfriend.
On Sunday, police released video camera footage of the assault, which allegedly took place around 10:00 p.m. on Sept. 15 in NYC's East Village, AM New York Metro reports.
Sources familiar with the investigation said the victim, a 21-year-old woman, and her girlfriend were walking near the corner of E. 14th Street and 3rd Avenue when the perpetrator began shouting anti-gay statements at her.
As the victim passed by the attacker, he continued to make hateful remarks before punching her in the face.
The LGBTQ legal advocacy firm Lambda Legal filed a motion last week asking the court to add two additional transgender plaintiffs to its lawsuit challenging the state of West Virginia's blanket exclusion on insurance coverage for gender-affirming care in both its Medicaid program and its state employee health plan.
The original class-action lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia last November, claims that insurance exclusions in both the Medicaid program and state employee health insurance plan violate the plaintiffs' right to equal protection under the law, discriminating on the basis of both sex and transgender status. It also claims that the exclusions violate nondiscrimination protections contained in the Affordable Care Act, and requirements in West Virginia's Medicaid Act requiring that all Medicaid recipients must receive an equal degree of coverage compared to other recipients.
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