Students at one Ohio high school walked out of class on Monday in protest of a policy allowing biological boys to use the girls’ bathroom if they identify as transgender.
Starting around noon, dozens of students walked out of Elida High School in northern Ohio just outside Lima, The Lima News reported.
Parents and other members of the community have reportedly been protesting the school’s transgender bathroom policy for months, arguing that allowing biological boys to use the girls’ bathroom infringes on the privacy of female students.
“We’re upset about biological boys in the girls’ bathroom,” said one freshman girl who walked out on Monday. “The school board hasn’t been listening.”
“There’s been multiple accounts of boys coming in the bathroom, or transgender girls, and bothering the girls in there and we’re just not for it,” the freshman girl told WLIO. “Biological boys need to stay in their own bathroom.”
Some parents and community members joined the protesting students outside the school, cheering and praying for an end to “this evil.”
Superintendent Joel Mengerink warned that students would get after-school detention if they failed to return to class after the protest.
“We are here to see to it our students are educated in a safe environment,” Mengerink said. “Encouraging students to participate in a walkout causes a lot of safety concerns on our part not knowing who’s outside with them, especially when we just experienced a social media threat last week. It also takes away instructional time from our students and that’s what we are here for.”
The transgender bathroom policy is reportedly part of the school district’s anti-discrimination policy, which allows trans-identifying and non-binary-identifying students to use the restroom of the opposite gender on a case-by-case basis.
The school board president said the policy is required by federal law, but some parents are not so sure.
The district also previously remodeled student bathroom stalls in an attempt to improve privacy and reassure parents.
The Ohio high schoolers are not the only students across the country who have staged a walkout protest over a transgender bathroom policy.
In September, about 400 Philadelphia-area high school students walked out of school to protest a similar policy. In that case, the Perkiomen Valley School District later banned biological boys from using the girls’ bathroom.
Transgender bathroom and locker room use has become a hot-button issue in many school districts around the country. Another common concern has been student gender transitions at school. Parents have accused their children’s schools of keeping them in the dark about their children’s new gender identities for long periods of time. Some have gone as far as suing their school districts.
More than 18,000 schools across the country have rules saying school staff can or should hide a student’s gender identity from parents, according to a list compiled by Parents Defending Education.