Lee Rogers couldn’t believe what people were saying in Lakewood High’s journalism class.
“Transgender people aren’t real people,” one student at the St. Petersburg, Fla., school remarked after reading an article about the issue. Others chimed in with similar statements.
Rogers, who was born female but identifies as “gender fluid,” fled the room in tears. The freshman mostly uses women’s restrooms because “it’s just easier,” and knows the pain transgender friends feel at school.
“It’s a scary thing being transgender in high school because you never know how anyone’s going to react,” Rogers said. “You just want to be accepted, and that’s not how the world is.”
The Obama administration tried to tilt the balance on Friday, warning school districts to protect the rights of transgender students or risk losing federal funds.
District spokeswoman Lisa Wolf said Pinellas County schools already offer support services to students who identify as transgender, as well as staff training on LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) issues.
The training is intended to create a “safe and civil environment” for everyone. Wolf also said a school may offer an alternative restroom or changing room, use a requested name and pronoun and make other accommodations. Nearby districts have taken similar steps.
Tampa Bay Times