A transgender boy attacked by bullies in his high school bathroom could face punishment under a new Tennessee law that criminalizes trans people who use the toilet near cisgender people.
Sherri Yandle says her son Tobi, a 16-year-old trans teen from Siegel High School, was told by school administrators to use a single-cabin toilet for the faculty whenever he had to go to the schools. bathroom. However, one day Tobi really had to leave and the bathroom was locked. So, having no other choice, he entered the boy’s bathroom.
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“He said some boys started chanting transphobic slurs and then it just got louder and louder,” Yandle told WTVF. “They started knocking and kicking the cabin door, so Tobi had to use his back to support her, then put his foot on the toilet to keep the door closed.”
While hiding from his attackers, Tobi frantically texted a friend. The boyfriend alerted Deputy Director Lorie Gober, and Gober stopped the attack. Gober found Tobi in the toilet cubicle, crying, scared to death, Yandle told the Murfreesboro Daily News Log. He thought the bullies were going to beat him up, she said.
The bullies were not punished, Yandle said, and Gober informed them that Tobi could be punished under a new Tennessee law.
The law, signed in May by Republican Gov. of Tennessee Bill Lee, requires public school students to use toilets that match their sex assigned at birth. If they don’t, others could sue them for being “a person of the opposite sex in a multi-occupant toilet.”
The law itself is transphobic, of course. Tobi is a boy and not, as the law says, a “person of the opposite sex”. But even worse, the law allows cisgender students or their parents to sue schools for “psychological, emotional and physical harm” if they are upset that a trans person uses a bathroom or locker room for several people who does not match the sex of trans people assigned at birth, Weekly metro Explain.
Yandle’s version of events may have “variances” from that of Gobers and bullies, Rutherford County Schools spokesperson James Evans said in a statement. “The school district is required to follow this law,” Evans added.
But while Tobi has yet to be punished, his mother and local LGBTQ activists fear the school will punish him harshly in order to prevent the parents of the bullies from suing.
“I don’t understand why my son would be punished when he is the victim of what is for me a hate crime,” Yandle said. “[The school is] must not let any child be bullied, and all children are supposed to be safe when they go to school and in this case I feel like this school has failed.
Earlier this month, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) sued Tennessee on behalf of two trans students to prevent the law from coming into force. The HRC, the students and their lawyers all called the law discriminatory and unconstitutional.