Transgender student left out of locker rooms during lockdown drill because of confusion over policy

- A transgender middle school student was directed to stand out in the open during a lockdown drill while her peers were instructed to shelter in either the boys or girls locker rooms, according to LGBTQ advocacy group, Equality Stafford.

Lesley Woods, co-facilitator for Equality Stafford, relayed the events from the student's family. The group is not identifying the student or the school out of fear for the student's safety and the safety of the other students.

Woods says on Sept. 28, the school held a lockdown drill while the transgender female student was in gym class. The students were instructed to take shelter in the boys and girls locker rooms, but the transgender student was told to sit in a hallway outside of the locker rooms because the staff did not know if it would be appropriate to allow her to go with the other girls into the locker room.

According to Woods, the incident led to anxiety for the girl and her family, and is a clear sign that Stafford County Public Schools needs a clear policy when it comes to transgender students.

"This is nothing new for the family," said Woods. "They are a solid family and they are very much in support of their child, and they are really solid advocates for the community. So I would say all in all, the rest of us are shocked and appalled and motivated to come and speak and learn, but this family – this is their life everyday,"

Woods says there have been inconsistencies previously in how the school handled the transgender student's bathroom and facility use.

Stafford County Public Schools does not have a policy and has been dealing with transgender students on a case-by-case basis, according to Woods.

In a statement to FOX 5, the school district wrote:

"Stafford County Public Schools does not comment on individual student incidents to avoid divulging confidential information. However, the new superintendent has requested a review of all protocols and procedures including security to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and respect. We take such matters very seriously and they will be addressed. The welfare of all students is of the utmost importance for SCPS."

Stafford County Public Schools declined to answer FOX 5's questions about policies regarding transgender students or the specific incident.

The school board will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. where Equality Stafford is expected to speak about the incident and the call for a clear policy for transgender students.

The group says it has received hundreds of comments on its Facebook post about the transgender student's recent experience. However, some of the comments have turned ugly, including several threats.

Other school systems have policies that guide staff on caring for transgender students. D.C. Public Schools has a comprehensive policy which allows transgender students access to spaces that correspond with their gender identity. Fairfax County Public Schools has a similar draft policy, but it has not gone into effect, pending the outcome of several court cases and the Trump administration's move to rescind Obama-era guidance that allowed transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Equality Stafford says despite the September incident, it has been working well with Stafford County Public Schools on LGBTQ-inclusive policies.

"The school is receptive, the school board is receptive and what we’re trying to do now is really highlight the need for a little bit more pressure and for a little bit more advocacy from the community to make sure that these changes happen more efficiently," said Woods.

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