WATCH: Trans Nursing Student Told to Use Bathroom In Closet or Face Charges
BY Sunnivie Brydum
July 11 2013 3:14 PM ET
A transgender nursing student in Clearwater, Fla., says that school administrators ordered her to stop using the women's restroom, instead mandating she use only a single-stall bathroom in the administrative building, or she'll face criminal charges that would result in her removal from the program.
Alex Wilson is a certified nursing assistant, taking classes at Pinellas Technical Education Center to become a licensed practical nurse, according to WFLA-TV. She also happens to be a transgender woman, who began hormone therapy four years ago.
Until Monday, Wilson used the women's restrooms in various campus buildings between and during classes. But she says on Monday, administrators pulled her out of class and told her she would no longer be allowed to use any of the public women's restrooms. Instead, she was required to use only a single-stall bathroom in the administration building.
"It's a small restroom in, what looks like a storage part of the administration building," Wilson told WFLA. "There's some cabinets, cleaning supplies."
If she did not comply, Wilson says the school officials threatened to press charges against her, which would disqualify her from the educational program.
"It's not right," said Wilson in the WFLA video interview. "And the fact that I would have to continue to use that restroom for the continuation of my education; that's not right."
A spokeswoman for the Pinellas school district told WFLA that administrators plan to investigate the incident, but that in such a situation, "a person will be offered access to a private restroom. And that's for the individual's privacy and for the privacy of other students."
Access to bathrooms has long been a contentious issue for transgender students, although a recent case in Colorado might provide guidance for the Florida school.
Last month, the Colorado Division of Civil Rights ruled that a transgender first-grader must be allowed to use the girls' bathroom at her elementary school. While Coy Mathis is just six years old, advocates note that her case could provide an encouraging precedent for trans students of any age around the country who want equal access to basic facilities, usually considered to be public accommodation.
Watch WFLA's report below.