An Alaska high school is being criticized for expelling a girl who kneed a boy in the groin after he entered the girls’ bathroom.
The boy was reportedly there as part of “some kind of protest” against another trans male student, who used the boys’ bathroom.
North Pole High School attempts to be welcoming to its trans students. Superintendent Dr. Karen Gaborik says there are “numerous” trans students in the district, according to BuzzFeed News, and the schools address each situation differently — including which bathrooms they’ll use.
One trans boy at North Pole chose to use the boys’ restroom.
One day, he took a bathroom selfie in there. It sent other male students into an uproar, and they decided to stage a “protest” by using the girls’ bathroom.
Upon entering the girls’ bathroom, the boys blocked a girl student in. Feeling threatened, she kneed one of them in the groin. She was reportedly expelled for defending herself, and people are furious about it.
The issue came to light after Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-Fairbanks, spoke out in support of the young girl at a House Majority press conference.
“If you ever feel threatened for your safety, whatever force you think you have to give, I will stand behind you,” Rep. Wilson told KTUU.
While we wait for gender-neutral bathrooms to become standard across the country, people continue to have major hang-ups over bathrooms and gender.
At North Pole High School in Fairbanks, Alaska, a trans boy used the boys’ bathroom and snapped a selfie, and a group of boys was furious over it.
The boys decided to go into the girls’ bathroom to take their own selfie as “a form of protest,” the district’s superintendent, Dr. Karen Gaborik, said in a statement, according to BuzzFeed News.
“Tomorrow identify as a women [sic] and use the women’s bathroom if you want this s*** to end,” a Snapchat about the protest reportedly read.
And so, on the day of the “protest,” a group of boys entered the girls’ bathroom. There was a girl in there at the time, and the boys blocked her from leaving. Feeling threatened, she kneed one of them in the groin. The school suspended her, and she was forced to miss her prom.
The girl’s sister tweeted that she was actually expelled, not suspended, though the school superintendent hasn’t confirmed that news.
The school also claims that it disciplined seven boys for trying to enter the girls’ restroom, but did not explain what type of discipline. The boys were allowed to attend prom.
Rep. Tammie Wilson spoke out in support of the young girl at a House Majority press conference:
“We had an incident last week to where some boys entered the girls’ bathroom, and a girl kneed a boy, feeling threatened. They were blocking her way. And she was suspended from school, because she used too much force.”
Per Dr. Gaborik, the boy was referred to medical treatment by a school health aide, but “it wasn’t like a 911 call.”
Rep. Wilson continued, per BuzzFeed News:
“I don’t care why the boys were in the bathroom. I heard there was some kind of protest going on, but doesn’t matter. I just wanted to make sure I had this opportunity to tell those young ladies at North Pole High School… if you ever feel threatened for your safety, whatever force you think you have to give, I will stand behind you. And so will our community. And not for those boys who were where they didn’t belong.”
The girl (who hasn’t been publicly identified) defended herself in a Facebook comment, per BuzzFeed News:
“These guys (and men some were 18) came into the female bathroom and scared me. And in a reaction I kneed him. I didn’t even know what I did till after. I was scared. There was no way for me to leave the bathroom or I would have.”
The story has blown up on social media, where many people are also in support of the girl. Some are even calling her a “hero” for defending herself in a scary situation.
“If my daughter finds herself in this situation I expect her to do the same,” one man tweeted. “I’ll teach her to do the same.”
Many agreed with Rep. Wilson that, in that moment, it didn’t matter why the boys were there. A teen girl saw a group of seven boys blocking her in the bathroom and likely assumed the worst. Violence against young girls happens every day.
It seems majorly unfair that she faced more severe consequences for defending herself than the boys who put her in that position in the first place.
Here’s how Dr. Gaborik explained the decision in her statement, per BuzzFeedNews:
“We do not advocate physical or psychological violence as a means to attain safety. If a student uses force against another student or against staff, that use of force is evaluated for potential discipline under the self-defense laws of the State and the facts and circumstances of the incident.”
While there’s no evidence that the trans bathroom debate had anything to do with the girl’s decision to knee the boy, there is a pretty clear connection here.
The boys, like many people, are uncomfortable with sharing bathrooms with trans people. One common argument is that trans people make bathrooms potentially unsafe for cisgender people. But that’s exactly what these cis boys were doing!
“But when cissexual men attempt to unambiguously do that and a girl defends herself, she’s punished, and the same people raving about unsafe bathrooms? Curiously silent,” one Twitter user pointed out.
And for that reason, a lot of trans people are thankful to this girl for doling out some justice to these boys, who were willing to intimidate her just to make a point about trans folks.
Rep. Wilson said that North Pole was sending the “wrong message” to young women by expelling the girl.
In a follow-up tweet, the girl’s sister wrote that the district had reversed its decision to expel her.
“She is going back to school today after lunch! Thank you everyone for supporting her,” she wrote.