Randolph High School in Randolph, Vermont, banned its girl’s volleyball team from using its own locker room while the school investigates a dispute between a transgender student on the team and the rest of the girls. Vermont’s education policy allows students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their preferred gender, but some of the girls on the volleyball team in Randolph High School took issue with the policy, according to WCAX.
“It’s a huge thing. Everyone’s asking, ‘So, why aren’t you allowed in the locker room?’” said Blake Allen, a member of the volleyball who, along with her other teammates who are uncomfortable with the arrangement, are currently banned from using the locker room. Allen says that she should not be charged with harassment or bullying simply for objecting to the policy.
“My mom wants me to do this interview to try to make a change,” she said, speaking to a WCAX reporter. “I feel like for stating my opinion—that I don’t want a biological man changing with me—that I should not have harassment charges or bullying charges. They should all be dropped.”
Allen explained that an issue arose when the transgender student made an inappropriate comment while members of the team were changing. She suggested that biological males should not be using locker rooms—her team feels the same way, but under state law, students are allowed to use whichever changing room they identify with.
“There are biological boys that go into the girl’s bathroom but never a locker room,” Allen said.
In an email to parents, the school takes the side of the transgender student, writing that officials are investigating the allegations that the girls harassed the transgender. Randolph Co-Principal Lisa Floyd also wrote to parents that students’ safety was a top priority and that disciplinary action will be taken when policies are violated.
The Vermont Agency of Education policy states that “the use of restrooms and locker rooms by transgender students require school to consider numerous facts.” But it goes on to say that “a transgender student should not be required to use a locker room or restroom that conflicts with the student’s gender identity.”
There is a conflicting report suggesting another side of the story. According to the mother of the transgender student, he was being bullied and harassed in the girls’ locker room. It reads:
One week before the WCAX report aired, [the mother of the student] said, her daughter was changing in the girls’ locker room before volleyball practice when three teammates started yelling at her to get out and to stop looking at them. Her daughter hadn’t encountered that kind of open negativity about being transgender since moving to Randolph in eighth grade, the mother said, so the aggressive comments came as a surprise. The girl had also previously changed in the same room as her teammates.
“She never really felt unwelcome or like she didn’t belong,” her mother said.
After being yelled at, the girl went into a locker room bathroom stall to change. She wasn’t sure if she was supposed to put on her team jersey, so she popped her head around the corner at one point to check with her teammates. The girls started yelling at her again.
When the transgender student walked into the gym after getting changed, she encountered the volleyball coach, who told the girl that she had overheard what had happened and was planning to report the incident to the school administration.
The school then closed the locker room to all of the students after being unable to find an adult to supervise the girls due to “false and escalating rhetoric on social media.”
The transgender student has allegedly been bullied and called numerous names in school since the incident, including “pervert” and “freak.” In an email to outlet Seven Days, the student wrote,
“I am here to inform you that what was written about me is not truthful, I had never made inappropriate comments in the girls locker room nor outside of it. That is a lie,” she wrote referring to the articles deriving from WCAX that was subsequently parroted by other news outlets. “News is meant to inform but all you have done is enable lies that not only hurt me, but hurt the transgender youth that are within Randolph and Vermont.”
The student’s mother hopes that the American Civil Liberties Union and the Trevor Project take notice of the story.