This story is over 5 years old.


Trans Student Blocked from Both Locker Rooms During School Safety Drill

She was forced to sit alone on the bleachers while her classmates and teachers huddled together inside.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Photo By Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images

School can be a brutal place for transgender students, who are liable to face discrimination from their teachers, get bullied by their peers, and often have to fight for the right to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. You'd hope that schools would try to do everything they could to make these kids feel feel safe and welcome—but last week, a trans middle schooler found herself "exposed and vulnerable" during a safety drill, all because the school wasn't sure "which locker room would be appropriate for her," CBS affiliate WUSA reports.


It all went down in Stafford, Virginia, during a lockdown drill designed to prep kids for an emergency like a mass shooting—another terrifyingly real prospect for American students today. The unnamed student's class was told to take cover in the locker rooms, where the boys were separated from the girls—but her teachers ultimately wouldn't let her inside either one.

According to local LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Stafford, she was "forced to watch the adults charged with her care debate the safest place (for the other students) to have her shelter," and wound up getting taken to a set of bleachers, "away from her peers and identified as different." Apparently still torn about where they should put her, her teachers then brought her back to the locker rooms, but made her sit outside in the hall—completely separated from her classmates, and barred from hiding out in what they ostensibly figured was the safest place to be during a shooting.

"During an event that prepares children to survive an attack by actual assailants, she was treated as if she was so much of a danger to peers that she was left exposed and vulnerable," Equality Stafford wrote in a Facebook post.

Some locals are, understandably, pretty outraged, and as one mother responded on Facebook, "bewildered"—bathroom equality issues aside, it's unclear why you'd separate boys from girls in an active shooter situation to begin with. Equality Stafford is planning to protest an upcoming school board meeting, and a handful of folks in the area have already pledged to join them. Meanwhile, Stafford County Schools spokeswoman Sherrie Johnson told WUSA the board's superintendent has "requested a review of all protocols and procedures to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and respect."

"We take such matters very seriously and they will be addressed," Johnson said in a statement. "The welfare of all students is of the utmost importance for SCPS."

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.