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Transgender Wake County students call for policy changes

Posted January 12

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— A transgender Wake County student is looking for a policy change that he says respects who he is, and more than 500 people are already on board.

The designation on Hayden Riner’s birth certificate says female, but the former Wake County student says he now identifies as a male. The change, during his freshman year of high school, was difficult.

“I have been called many derogatory slurs,” said Riner.

Riner said a simple trip to the restroom was a big problem. He was not comfortable in the ladies room and the school did not allow him in the men’s room.

“And [they] told me, if I continue to use the men’s restroom that I would be suspended,” he said.

Wake County student C.J. Lewis is also transgender. He started a petition online to call for policy changes and support is growing.

“We want to live as a different gender, so we want to be able to use the bathrooms that are congruent with our identities,” said Lewis.

Director of Counseling at Wake County Schools, Crystal Reardon said federal privacy laws do not allow her to discuss individual student cases. This past summer, the district strengthened existing policies “to include a prohibition of any kind of discrimination based on gender identity,” she said.

Reardon said that the district is taking Lewis’ petition seriously and that school workers consider any student requests, but there is much more they also have to consider.

“We want to make sure they are safe themselves and we also want to make sure that any decisions we are making do not negatively impact any other students in the building and create an unsafe environment for them,” she said.

Hayden said administrators at his school gave him access to other individual restrooms, but that just added to the attention and questions.

“I would have to out myself as transgender,” he said. “I think it is important that people are able to feel safe at school.”

District leaders said Lewis’ petition contains helpful information to keep in mind for the future, but they said there are no plans for any additional policies.

55 Comments

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  • Rae Ackerman Jan 14, 2016
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    Hey cis people, no one is asking you to use the opposite gender's bathroom. Do you think that maybe all the heartache and confusion over being trans is because there are stupid rules that make them feel like they are not going to be accepted in this society?

    I am VERY PROUD of Hayden (and C.J.) for standing up and coming out to the world, because he can either live in silence (as a number of these commenters would have him do), having an existential crisis every time he needs to go to the bathroom, or he can fight for his identity -- fight for his life. He wouldn't have to explain himself or out himself if the school system wouldn't threaten to suspend him if he used the restroom that says "Men" -- when that's exactly what he is: a man.

    I would like to remind folks that gender is a cultural / social construct. Schools are exactly the place to begin this movement so maybe one day people could learn tolerance and let people just figure out their own path.

  • Greg Klayton Jan 13, 2016
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    Actually I tend to agree with most of what you say. But how they feel about themselves isn't the problem here. The problem is these admittedly confused people forcing their confusion on the rest of us by making us accept transgender restrooms and more. That is a big problem.

    And just like the entire gay marriage thing, it is not a case of being accepted. It is a case of pushing their AGENDA on the 99.9% of the rest of us. They are bullying us into submission by calling us bigots, ignorant and the like.

    Sorry, "Yashi". Their agenda has gone too far and people, regardless of political ideology, just will not accept it. Get over it.

  • Deanna Davis Jan 13, 2016
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    What do they expect? Every school to build separate bathrooms for them? Like that wont be noticed??

  • Fanny Chmelar Jan 13, 2016
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    Like the ones in your home?

    I think the biggest problem I've heard so far is people saying "I want to live as a (man/woman). Every transgender person I know doesn't talk like that. They say, "I am a woman/man, I'm not living *as* a woman/man."

    Sometimes I think some of these kids are just a bit confused about what is going on. It's why rules like living for a year as that gender, getting professional mental counseling, and giving them time to figure out what the heck is going on are so important. I don't doubt that some are confused. But I know that many have gotten past confused and into the truth of who they are, whether it be cisgender or not. No two people on this planet are the same and treating everyone as though they are is a huge fail at best. Insulting them reflects more about you than it does them.

  • Gsp Winner Jan 13, 2016
    user avatar

    That's not my problem he has a confusion of gender. I don't want him in my bathroom. Tired of heterosexual phobic individuals. We are going to fight for our rights. No unisex bathrooms!

  • William Teach Jan 13, 2016
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    OK, then, if we want to take the atheist/Darwinian view, evolution created two human sexes. Simple.

  • William Teach Jan 13, 2016
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    “I would have to out myself as transgender,” he said. “I think it is important that people are able to feel safe at school.”

    Kinda seems like you are, being in a news article.

  • Dale Xavier Jan 13, 2016
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    As an Atheist, I have no problem in saying that if you christians find something wrong, such as gay marriage, abortion or transsexual rights. Either keep it to yourselves, change the laws ( such as your ill fated Amendment #1) or elect a president to appoint some Supreme Court justices that MIGHT rule in your favor. Happily, you don't have enough numbers to take back the White House.

  • Dale Xavier Jan 13, 2016
    user avatar

    Oh, the good "christian republicans" in VA are pushing House Bill 663 "“Local school boards shall develop and implement policies that require every school restroom, locker room, or shower room that is designated for use by a specific gender to solely be used by individuals whose anatomical sex matches such gender designation. Adults would be required to inspect children’s genitals before they use the bathroom”. That about says everything about bible thumpers.

  • Marty Baker Jan 13, 2016
    user avatar

    I know this is a little fact that won't fit into your "Baptist" hating theme, but I'm not the least bit religious. I just have morals. I will never talk you into having them, and you will never talk me into giving up mine. So I won't respond anymore, it's pointless for us both. Have a great day!

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