“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,” the 16-year-old told the outlet.
What brought this change on? According to Stucker’s mother, Jennifer Larson, a fellow student was “maybe” uncomfortable sharing the bathroom with a trans student. She specified that there was “no concern on safety” communicated to her when she spoke to school officials. Larson pointed out, however, that laws are not written around people being comfortable.
Stucker told local outlet KCCI that the school’s change “really upset” him, and that he had no idea it was coming, so he was caught off guard by the change. He also shared that he has no disciplinary issues or complaints on his school record.
Storm Lake High School Principal Casey O’Rourke provided a statement to KCAU9, saying: “We are aware of the request and are meeting to accommodate the matter. We do not see this as an issue as we are very sensitive to transgender issues.”
“We are investigating the current regulations and are sensitive to both sides of the issue,” said Superintendent David Smith in a statement to KCCI. “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.”
Which, of course, opens up the question: What happens if one student’s “emotional” safety causes another student to feel ostracized, excluded, or discriminated against? What does it mean to have emotional safety versus interrogating and coping with one’s own discomfort?
Stucker said he has no plans to use the alternate bathroom and that he believes he should be able to use the same bathrooms as the other boys in the school. He has also started an online petition on Change.org that’s garnered more than 1,000 signatures at the time of writing.
Interestingly, Stucker is actually on track to graduate early, which might turn out to be a blessing, but vulnerable youth shouldn’t need to finish school early (or leave without finishing) to avoid anti-trans policies and behaviors. We’ve seen reports of students rallying on behalf of their trans peers who say they weren’t allowed to access gender-affirming facilities, like school locker rooms, which is a wonderful show of solidarity. We’ve also seen, unfortunately, trans youth speak up and say someone secretly recorded them using the bathroom. Trans youth have also spoken to lawmakers at a number of committee hearings—and some have even already sued their states over discriminatory bathroom bills.
Trans youth shouldn’t have to be heroes fighting for their own basic rights and respect—they should have the same grace and permission to grow up just like everyone else, and the last thing a student should have to worry about in this day and age is simply using a safe, comfortable bathroom.