Students are speaking out against an Illinois high school that threatened to discipline students who protest the use of bathrooms on the basis of gender identity, rather than biological sex.
On March 17, a group of nearly 150 Waterloo High School students lined up to use the nurse’s restroom after being told if they were uncomfortable sharing a bathroom with a student of the opposite sex, they could use the single-stall unisex bathroom, students told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Following the protest, Superintendent Brian Charron notified the school community that the students who stood in line were marked tardy from class and those who continue to protest the issue will be disciplined, a move students believe is unfair, they told the DCNF.
“On Friday, around 150 students, including myself, stood up for our rights and beliefs,” Anna Demers, a Waterloo High School senior, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We were told to use a single stall restroom in the nurse’s office if we were uncomfortable with persons of the opposite genitalia in our restrooms. We all stood in line, to use the restroom, and to make a statement. When we tried to stress our safety concerns prior to the events Friday, we were not acknowledged and heard. The events on Friday were peaceful on our part, aside from a few disrespectful individuals, which is inevitable because as teenagers, life is a learning process.”
After a biological female started using the boys’ bathroom, several male students told school administration they were uncomfortable, Charron wrote. The administration advised the students to use the nurse’s office bathroom if they were uncomfortable sharing a restroom with the opposite sex.
Under school district policy, students are allowed to use bathrooms on the basis of gender identity rather than biological sex, Charron wrote in an email obtained by the DCNF. The policy, which has been in place since 2017, is in accordance with state and federal law, the email stated.
Students who lined up to use the nurse’s bathroom were marked tardy or absent from class and the school district will discipline students who repeat the actions and continue to protest the policy, Charron wrote in the email.
“We want all parents and students to understand that we will not tolerate another significant disruption in school,” Charron wrote. “Students who participated in this disruption today were marked tardy or absent from class. We understand that a similar plan is in place for Monday. Students who attempt to repeat today’s actions will be disciplined for attempting to cause a disruption in school. To the extent we determine that the nurse’s office bathroom line was a form of harassment, students will be disciplined for their participation in the harassment.”
Students lined up outside of the nurse’s bathroom because that is what the administration directed them to do as a solution to their concerns, Eric Williams, a Waterloo High School senior, told the DCNF.
“They said any other act of protest like what they said the line was, was to be brought down with disciplinary measures,” Williams told the DCNF. “That alone is a violation of our first constitutional right to assemble peacefully and organized. We were doing only what the administration told us to do and we get punished for following it, that is unfair and with everything else I’ve stated, I’m quite frankly disappointed with our board and administration with how they handled this. The email only solidified that the line, and any other kind of petition or protest, is going to be silenced.”