A group of Pine-Richland school district alumni is planning to protest the district’s transgender bathroom policy at tonight’s school board meeting.
In early September, the board passed a resolution requiring students to use either the bathroom that matches their biological sex or a unisex bathroom.
But Molly Steadman, who is organizing the protest, said that policy is akin to the “separate but equal” doctrine that kept public schools legally segregated until 1954.
Steadman is an out lesbian who graduated from Pine-Richland High School in 2008.
“I saw the discrimination that happened to my friends and myself that kept my friends and myself in the closet for the entirety of high school,” she said.
She recalled a lesbian couple having things thrown at them in the hallway if they held hands and gay male friends being called derogatory slurs in locker rooms.
In May, the Obama administration issued guidance saying that public schools must allow transgender students to use the facilities of their choice or risk losing federal funding. A district judge in Texas blocked the policy in August, siding with 13 states suing the administration.
The Post-Gazette reported in mid-September that Lambda Legal, a national law firm representing the interests of the LGBT community, is planning to sue the district.
Steadman said school board members who voted in favor of the policy are complicit in any harassment trans students at Pine-Richland might face.
“At the end of the day, they’re not accomplishing anything other than making kids’ lives harder and distracting from the reason kids are at school, which is to learn,” she said. “I know that harassment takes place regardless, but I certainly don’t think they’re making anything easier.”
A Pine-Richland spokeswoman declined to comment for this story.