Target: Martin Twiss, Superintendent of Education
Goal: Let transgender student use his preferred restroom at school
A high school has prohibited a transgender teen from using the men’s restroom. James Spencer transferred to Durham Region’s Clark High School after repeatedly being mocked and bullied by students at his old school. He came to Clark High School already transitioned to a male, and had hoped to put his old life behind him. Instead, it was now the school administration providing the bullying.
Spencer, born Samantha De Graauw, began the transition from female to male in the 10th grade. Already transitioned by the time he enrolled at Clark High School, Spencer, now 16, was asked to use the restroom at a fast food restaurant down the street within the first week of school, an act that the school denies.
The school only permitted Spencer to use the women’s restroom or a private locked bathroom reserved for the janitorial and kitchen staff and students with medical disabilities. The school claimed it was only temporary until they could find another solution.
The students at Clark High School have been surprisingly supportive and encouraging. Spencer took it upon himself to talk to half of his class, collecting signatures asking to be allowed to use the men’s restroom. Of the students that he talked to, only three refused to sign. Yet, the school administration still would not budge on their decision.
Earlier this year, the Toronto District School Board issued a series of guidelines on how students who do not conform to traditional gender identities should be treated. Some of the key factors specify that schools must now accommodate according to the student’s own stated gender preference and do not need to produce official documentation to justify their identity choice, meaning the students are allowed to dictate which restroom they wish to use at school.
Martin Twiss, the superintendent of education on the school board which oversees Clark High School, said that while the board may want to accommodate students as best they can, they also have to be conscious that not everyone might feel comfortable with that at this point.
Twiss also said the board is looking into creating a positive and more inclusive environment for Spencer in the coming weeks and will be looking into removing the lock and key from the private bathroom to make it more accessible for Spencer and other students to use.
A transgender student who has fully transitioned to a male should not be forced to use the woman’s or a private restroom; he should be allowed to use the men’s restroom. The students showed support for Spencer’s wish to not be segregated and he should be made to feel comfortable in his own school. Sign the petition urging school administration to allow James Spencer to use the men’s restroom.
Dear Mr. Twiss,
Your efforts to accommodate students as best you can has left one student feeling segregated and like there is something wrong with him. James Spencer, already having transitioned to a male before enrolling at your school, has only been permitted access to the women’s restroom or a private bathroom under lock and key. Despite the Toronto District School Board’s guidelines to allow students to dictate which restroom they wish to use at school, Spencer is still not allowed to use the men’s restroom.
Transferring to Clark High School to escape the ridicule from the students at his old school, the administration has left Spencer feeling uncomfortable and like he does not belong. No child should ever have to feel that way. Spencer even petitioned, gaining the signatures of half of the students at Clark High School agreeing that he should be allowed to use the men’s restroom.
Although you feel that the other students might not feel comfortable with transgender students, they have proven that they respect Spencer and his choices. He should be allowed to use the restroom specific to his gender, the men’s restroom.
[Your Name Here]
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