Protests erupted at a Missouri high school on Monday after a transgender student requested permission to use the girls’ restroom.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Lila Perry, a transgender senior at Hillsboro High School, asked for permission from the school to use bathrooms and locker rooms designated for female students.
“I wasn’t hurting anyone. I didn’t want to be in something gender-neutral,” Perry told the Post-Dispatch. “I am a girl. I am not going to be pushed away to another bathroom.”
Perry was granted permission to use the girls’ restrooms and began doing so when classes started last month.
According to The New York Times, over 100 students left class on Monday to protest.
Students and parents who gathered expressed concern over female students’ safety and privacy.
Counter-protesters gathered in support of Perry as well, the Post-Dispatch reported.
The Daily Signal previously reported that Perry’s school district, the Hillsboro R-3 School District, allows transgender students to use facilities designated for the opposite sex. Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to the district proposing an alternative policy.
ADF legal counsel Matt Sharp told The Daily Signal in an interview that “the law is very clear that schools can maintain separate facilities—including locker rooms and bathrooms—based on sex.”
Sharp said “common sense shouldn’t be thrown out the window.”
He suggested that schools provide single-stall bathrooms and individual changing areas for students who request accommodation, which would protect the “privacy and dignity” of every student.
Some who opposed the decision noted that Perry has not yet undergone gender-reassignment surgery.
“The way I was raised, I have no problem with a transgender, but he shouldn’t be in the women’s locker room until he has the surgery,” Greg Wilson, a parent in the school district, told the Leader.
Some students were supportive of Perry’s choice to use the girls’ restroom.
“She is such a good person,” Skyla Thompson, who described herself as Perry’s best friend, told the Post-Dispatch. “They are just judging her on the outside.”
The Missouri Gay-Straight Alliance Network is planning a rally in support of Perry.
“We are here to show Lila and other trans students around the state of Missouri and around the county that we lift them up when others might try to bring them down,” said a post on the group’s Facebook page for the event.