Hillsboro High School in Missouri made nationwide headlines on Monday after hundreds of students held a walkout in response to trans senior Lila Perry's recent use of the girls bathroom and locker room. Some students walked out in support of Lila's decision, while the majority fought against this right.
Lila, who was born male but has identified as a female since age 13, started using the girls bathroom and locker room this year after previously using the gender neutral faculty restroom. Her decision to begin using the female locker room and bathroom has reportedly caused a stir with other girls and parents of students at the school, who say that although Lila wears dresses and a wig, she still has the physical appearance of a male. Lila told local news station KMOV that she isn't convinced that those protesting her are doing it to keep her female classmates safe, as some parents have argued.
“There’s a lot of ignorance, they are claiming that they’re uncomfortable," she said. "I don’t believe for a second that they are. I think this is pure and simple bigotry. I wasn’t hurting anyone and I didn’t want to feel segregated out. I didn’t want to be in the gender neutral bathroom. I am girl, I shouldn’t be pushed off to another bathroom."
Though Lila has given the school administration a 9 out of 10 for making her feel welcomed, she has dropped out of P.E. class out of fear for her safety and also to avoid the other girls who have made her feel uncomfortable. While many have spoken out against Lila's usage of the girls bathroom and locker room, hundreds have RSVP'd to a Facebook event titled #LiftingUpLila, which is set to take place later this week.
"Young people, including trans and gender non conforming young people, have the right to education with dignity and equity," the Facebook page reads. "We are here to show Lila and other trans students around the state of Missouri and around the county that we lift them up when others might try to bring them down."
Here are some heated social media reactions to the controversy:
Earlier this year, Yvette Cormier was banned from Planet Fitness in Midland County, Michigan after complaining nonstop about a transgender person using the women's locker room.
When Cormier went to Planet Fitness to exercise one day, she was taken aback by a transgender person in front of the locker room. When she confronted the front desk worker about it, the employee said the individual identifies as female. Cormier took the matter up with Planet Fitness' corporate office only to be reminded of the "judgment free" policy, which applies to all Planet Fitness centers all over the U.S.
McCall Gosselin, Planet Fitness's PR director, said in a statement that "Planet Fitness is committed to creating a non-intimidating, welcoming environment for our members. Our gender identity non-discrimination policy states that members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity."
Still unhappy, Cormier started telling other women at the gym about bumping into a trans person by the locker room. Planet Fitness heard about this and told Cormier she was violating the "judgment free" rule and her membership was promptly canceled.
"The manner in which this member expressed her concerns about the policy exhibited behavior that management at the Midland club deemed inappropriate and disruptive to other members, which is a violation of the membership agreement and as a result her membership was canceled," Gosselin said of Cormier's membership termination.
Cormier went on to say she was being "punished" for feeling unsafe, but ACLU Attorney Jay Kaplan pointed out to Michigan Live that it is dangerous for transgender women to be limited to the men's room, "A transgender woman would be much more at risk for her safety if she had to use the men’s bathroom."
To learn more about the issues transgender Americans face, check out our video on the battle for gender neutral bathrooms: