Karine Jean-Pierre
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Trans Boy Suddenly Banned From Restrooms He's Used for Over a Year

Ethan Stucker

A trans boy in Iowa has been threatened with disciplinary action if he continues to use the men’s restrooms at his school.

For more than a year and a half Ethan Stucker, 16, had been allowed to the men’s restrooms at Spirit Lake High School.

“It really upset me,” Stucker told local TV station KCCI. “And I had no idea that that was coming, so it really caught me off guard.”

Stucker told station KCAU that he was called down to the school’s office.

“So after school, I went down to the office and the guidance counselors told me that if I continue to use the male restroom that I will have to speak to the principal and will be disciplined for that,” he said.

Instead, school officials told him that he had to use the unisex restroom in the teacher’s lounge.

The change violates the 2007 Iowa Civil Rights Act and Iowa Department of Education guidelines, according to Stucker.

Stucker and his mother, Jennifer Larson, said the change was sudden and they’ve had no explanation why it happened.

“I was not aware that there was any issue prior to them calling Ethan,” Larson explained. “And after the fact, Ethan called me from school and he was crying and very upset.”

In a statement, Spirit Lake Schools Superintendent David Smith said, “We are investigating the current regulations and are sensitive to both sides of the issue. We have and continue to provide multiple restroom facilities attempting to accommodate both positions on the issue so all our students feel emotionally and physically safe.”

Larson said the decision to ban Stucker from the men’s restrooms is unacceptable. She added that the family is considering its next steps.

She told KCAU, “They told me that there was no concern on safety, but it was rather a student’s feelings of maybe being uncomfortable in the bathroom with transgender students.”

“There was a concern that somebody felt uncomfortable,” Larson said. “And that's not how the law is written, for comfort level.”

“It’s ostracizing those students and making them feel separate from everyone else, and I don’t get how the school is all about bringing us together and being one with the community and a one school equality thing and this does not fall in line with what they claim they want to do,” Larson told KCAU.

Stucker has refused to use a different restroom, he told KCCI.

“And I don't plan to,” he said. “Because I have every right to be treated the same as every other male student in there.”

Stucker has started an online petition to support trans students using public restrooms at the school.

“It really is important because there’s a lot of especially younger trans kids in the school who really need a safe place to grow up and the school isn’t providing that right now,” he said.

The situation in Iowa is just the latest in the country where trans students are reporting being denied the use of the restroom that aligns with their gender identity. On the state level, trans students have been targeted repeatedly by legislation in several states.

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