School's Mass Shooting Drill Has Trans-Exclusionary Shelter

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During a lockdown drill at a Virginia middle school, a trans student sat on the bleachers as teachers prioritized refusing to let her into the girls' locker room over assuring her safety in a crisis.

Last week, during the drill at a Stafford County middle school designed to ready students in case of a mass shooting, students practiced finding shelter in sex-segregated locker rooms, local LGBTQ group Equality Stafford reports in a Facebook post. However, the transgender child was forced to remain on the gymnasium bleachers throughout the drill rather than prepare for a potential emergency.

“The student was forced to watch the adults charged with her care debate the safest place (for the other students) to have her shelter,” Equality Stafford wrote. “During this debate, she was instructed to sit in the gym with a teacher until the drill was complete, away from her peers and identified as different.”

Teachers eventually decided that the trans tween should sit in the locker room hallway, a door away from her peers – a place unlikely to offer much protection during a mass shooting.

This is the second time the Stafford County Public Schools have isolated this child for being transgender, Newsweek reports. In 2015, when she was in fourth grade, the student was initially permitted to use the girls' restroom, but her elementary school rescinded the permission after parents of other students complained. 

In response to the incident, parents and activists plan to stage a protest at Tuesday's school board meeting.

Hosted by Equality Stafford, the demonstration will call for staff training on LGBTQ issues and the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to the district's nondiscrimination policy. The district has gay-straight alliances in three of its five high schools, but advocates want to make such groups available in all of the district's middle and high schools.

“The new superintendent has requested a review of all protocols and procedures to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and respect,” Stafford County Public Schools spokeswoman Sherrie Johnson responded in a statement, accordng to Washington, D.C., TV station WUSA. “We take such matters very seriously and they will be addressed. The welfare of all students is of the utmost importance for SCPS.”

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