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Classmates support transgender teen’s fight to use boys washroom
Students are throwing their support behind a transgender teen as he fights for access to the common boys washroom.
Sixteen-year-old James Spencer was asked by officials at Clarke High School in Durham region to stop using the boys washroom.
“I had been told that the main reason that I wasn’t allowed into those bathrooms was because students were uncomfortable with it,” said Spencer.
Officials offered Spencer, who was born a girl but identifies as a boy, access to a single stall washroom instead. Spencer claims they also suggested he could use the washroom at a nearby gas station. The school has denied suggesting the teen leave campus.
The school’s response prompted Spencer to launch a petition and find out how many of his schoolmates would be OK with transgender students using the shared washroom they identify with.
In just two days Spencer’s petition received more than 200 signatures, as well as outside support.
“Before I knew it, people were contacting the mayor, the media,” said Spencer. “I had a phone call from my grandma saying she had contacted CTV.”
Some of Spencer’s classmates told CTV Toronto that school policies needed to be updated.
“We have people in the school who are openly gay,” said student Connor Macleod. “No one has any problem with that.”
Earlier this year the province recently amended the human rights code to grant protection to transgender individuals. The Toronto District School Board has also created guidelines to ensure transgender students are able to use whichever washroom they identify with.
While the Kawartha Pine Ridge School Board does not have a policy in place regarding the use of washrooms by transgender students, Spencer’s story has prompted them to work towards a resolution.
“We have to make sure that everybody understands the situation for him and can make it a safe situation for James and for all students,” said superintendent Martin Twiss.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Ashley Rowe