A transgender student was shunned from an active shooter drill, and this is unacceptable
Despite recent strides in transgender visibility, transgender youth remain one of the most vulnerable groups in the United States. And in Stafford County, Virginia, one transgender student was reportedly prevented from participating in an active-shooter drill with her peers.
Equality Stafford, a local LGBTQ rights group, wrote in an October 3rd Facebook post that during a drill at an unnamed middle school the week before, students in one PE class were instructed to take shelter in the nearest bathroom or locker room. But PE teachers forced one student, a trans girl, to remain in the gym as they debated which locker room she should enter (which, by the way, should not be a priority in an active shooter situation). Eventually, teachers sent her to sit by the door in the locker room hallway, separate from the rest of the students.
As Equality Stafford noted in its post, hindering the student’s participation in the drill left her “exposed and vulnerable.”
"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," the post read. "These events occur across our country right now but this one happened here."
The organization later clarified in its post that the teachers were “not the bad guys” and were simply following instructions.
The Free Lance-Star reports that several Stafford residents expressed concern over the incident at the October 9th Stafford County School Board meeting. At the same meeting, one of the student’s family friends, Joni Wilson, read a letter from the girl.
"If there was someone armed in my school, I would have been the first one gone, the letter read. “I felt like an afterthought. If the whole thing wasn’t bad enough, the embarrassment caused me to have a panic attack in front of everyone."
Scott Kizner, the superintendent of Stafford County Public Schools, issued an apology to the student at the meeting, according to The Free Lance-Star. He also said that the school board would work to review protocol and potentially change its policies.
"We did not live up to my unwavering expectation that every child and adult—regardless of race, religion, color, disability, gender and sexual orientation—is treated with respect and dignity and for that I apologize to the student, the family and the Stafford community," the superintendent said at the meeting.
Hopefully, this school board—and others like it—learn from this abject failure in protocol and work towards more inclusive policies. Because lives literally depend on it.