Gender danger: Trans student barred from all locker rooms, left in the open at school shooter drill
After a spate of school shootings earlier this year inspired copycat threats at Virginia middle schools, area school districts began scheduling "lockdown drills" to put parents' minds at ease. Like fire drills, such pantomimes only go so far to prepare for real, unscripted emergencies. Sometimes a real emergency isn't even required, as one transgender student in Stafford, Virginia discovered last month.
Students at Stafford County public schools are instructed to seek shelter in the middle school's locker rooms during an active shooter drill. The school's lone transgender student was, however, singled out, barred from both male and female locker rooms and made to sit in the gym bleachers while teachers debated what to do with her. She was finally moved to a hallway between the locker rooms, where teachers presumably stopped short of cleaving her in two. Equality Stafford, a local LGBTQ rights group, reported the incident.
The Stafford incident is a warning of what happens when signaling one’s virtue outpaces showing common sense. As teachers debated the best way to avoid hurting anyone's feelings, they left the transgender student in an extremely exposed position – easy pickings should a real shooter have been present.
"The new superintendent has requested a review of all protocols and procedures to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and respect," Stafford public school spokeswoman Sherrie Johnson told Metro Weekly after the incident.
Both school shootings and transgender youth are new enough to public education that Stafford faculty most likely grew up without encountering either. Equality Stafford took pity on their unfamiliarity with the issues, asking parents and locals not to blame the staff – only their lack of training. In essence, blame the administration.
A bloated administration is largely to blame for the high costs of US public education, which has seen per-pupil spending increase steadily even as literacy rates and test scores plateau or decline. Schools have sprouted entire 'diversity departments' to handle thorny identity politics issues while rank-and-file teachers see their salaries stagnate.
The Stafford incident has apparently revived tensions that initially surfaced when the child was first allowed to use the girls' restroom three years ago in the fourth grade. Some parents rebelled against the decision, saying they weren't properly notified and calling on the school board to "return to appropriate standards."
Other parents protested that their own children would be at risk and begged the school board to reconsider their decision.
Equality Stafford is planning a protest on Tuesday to push for better training on LGBTQ issues for its staff and for the adoption of a gender identity clause to the school's anti-discrimination policy.
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