Teenager Blake Allen and her peers complained when a male student used her locker room. Now they face heavy criticism—and perhaps even punishment.
Our team traveled up the coast this week to the northeastern Vermont town of Randolph in time to see the last days of the beautiful foliage. autumn over there. We wanted to see these lively girls, who chatted with us while eating pancakes and drinking coffee. They shared their story and their anxieties from the past tense weeks, acknowledging the risks of speaking publicly about such a controversial issue.
It’s an issue many parents don’t expect their daughters to deal with.
years deal, let alone speak in public about it: male student, who identifies as a transgender girl, playing on the girls’ volleyball team and using their locker room.
But in this Vermont school district, education officials cite a state law that allows students to use locker rooms and bathrooms that align with their declared gender identity. These officials say they care about everyone’s safety and that Randolph Union High School is investigating whether there was harassment when the girls told their biologically male classmate not to come to their locker room while they were changing.
During a full Tuesday night (11/) meeting with parents, school superintendent Layne Millington claimed that the The girls’ reaction has led to hatred and bigotry against the student who identifies as trans and against the school district. And other parents and students criticized Blake and his family for not keeping quiet about it.
Parents who spoke to us said the superintendent and the meeting did not pay attention to the most pressing issue: their daughters’ discomfort. with the presence of a male student in the locker room who can watch them as they change clothes.
On a foggy Wednesday morning, we met with some of these girls in a bowling alley. Nervous but determined to speak their truth, each girl sat down, adjusted the microphone and gave her explanation of why she thinks her voice is not being respected.
Girls say they don’t have nothing against the trans student — they just don’t think a biologically male person should be in their locker room, and they can’t understand why school authorities don’t seem to care about their feelings and discomfort.
“A man was in our locker room when the volleyball girls were trying to change clothes,” Blake said. “And after I asked him to leave, he didn’t, and then he spied on the girls taking off their shirts. And that left many uncomfortable, feeling violated. And I left as soon as I could, in a panic.”
“It’s not entirely the trans student’s fault,” she added. “It is much more the fault of the board to choose, they are at fault with everyone. Not just with the volleyball team, not with the trans student. They did nothing to help in this situation. They still aren’t. They just want to blame people and are not trying to help change things.”
A member of the volleyball team who named Lilly said at the Tuesday night meeting that none of the girls in the locker room were changing clothes when the trans student walked in. Kayla, one of the volleyball players we spoke to, said this is not true.
“They were all at some stage of changing clothes,” she explained. “Some girls were already dressed, some hadn’t taken off their clothes, others were in the middle of changing.”
“So why would anyone say they weren’t?” I asked her.
“I think everyone is trying to twist the story to make it look like we are the bad people in the situation,” said the high school student.
The trans student’s guardian and stepmother , Melissa Sivvy, insisted that her daughter is a girl, that she deserves to use the girls’ locker room and has never behaved inappropriately.
With the right of reply offered by the report, the guardian asked the report to explain what does “biologically masculine” mean and what the girls meant when they declared that they were uncomfortable with their daughter present in the space where they were changing clothes.
“Your daughter is biologically masculine, right? ” I asked Sivvy on Wednesday night.
The answer: “Do you think adults should be thinking about what’s under children’s clothes? It seems kind of out of order to me.”
Parents interviewed said they are disgusted with the school district and high school for allowing such an incident to happen — they don’t want biological boys in the locker rooms. of their daughters, and are perplexed that the school system seems to prioritize the needs of students who identify as transgender over those of their daughters. They also firmly refute allegations that complaining is hate.
“I want every child, every child at school to feel safe, every child across the country to feel safe in their spaces where they need to change clothes and they should be private spaces,” said Blake’s mother, Jessica Allen. “We need to be more creative in the country to really figure out a way to keep everyone safe and working together. Hate really needs to stop, because that’s not what it’s about… let’s have an open dialogue about how to make everyone feel safe and comfortable, because we teach children to protect their bodies.”
“I don’t think it’s their place,” added Eric Messier, Kayla’s father. “My daughter is uncomfortable… while the other student is in the locker room. All that matters is her comfort. It’s pretty simple,” he added, describing his daughter and friends as “strong, resilient girls.”
“They need to change things and give everyone comfort.”
)School officials continue to point to Vermont state law in this regard, noted Jessica Allen. “But the law, as it is written, gives room for creativity,” she said. “Let’s be more creative, let’s make it happen so everyone feels safe.”
Blake tells us that not only is she helpless by the school—she also faces punishment. Emails read by the report show that school authorities are investigating Blake for “harassing someone on the basis of their gender” and that they have launched an investigation into this allegation following a lawsuit of “hazing, harassment and bullying”.
Authorities declined to comment specifically on these allegations against Blake. Co-director Lisa Floyd told the report that “Student safety is our district’s highest priority. We always do our best to maintain a supportive and supportive learning environment for all of our students.”
“The district has policies and protocols in place to respond to harassment of students based on protected or other bad characteristics. ducts,” she added. “We will not be able to discuss specific students because of federal privacy laws. However, when it comes to our attention that there has been a violation of our guidelines, including harassment against other students, our response is immediate. Where our policies and expectations are violated, we take disciplinary action in accordance with the law and proportionately to prevent further misconduct. We also do our best to provide victims with protective measures.”
Blake says he doesn’t regret having protested.
“I’m glad I said something. thing, because there is still so much to be done, the law could be changed, because now the news is national”, she said. As for the student who identifies as trans, “he had the right to come in, but as soon as we said we were uncomfortable, he should have left. It could have been that simple.”
“I don’t want other girls to feel uncomfortable about it,” Blake added. “I think everyone should be able to change clothes in the locker room that are in line with what they were at birth. If you were born a girl, you can go to the girls’ locker room, leave when you’re done changing. It should be simple, but it’s not anymore.”
Kayla said she has heard many people saying that school authorities are treating the trans student as if she has more rights than girls.
“That’s a good way to explain it,” she said. “They care more for a single student than the rest of the girls. So we’re told to change clothes in the individual bathrooms instead of the locker room. And the trans person stays in the locker room while we have to go to different places.”
“I think the team is very brave to do this, because we all knew what would happen, the consequences. If one of us tried to win a scholarship, they could find us on the internet and deny it,” she added. “And so there are a lot of consequences for what we’re doing, but I think it’s very important.”
“Is it hate or intolerance not wanting a male in your bathroom or dressing room?”, I asked the woman. most girls.
“No,” says Grace, a senior student at Randolph Union.
“Not at all,” says Blake.
“No,” says Blake’s mother. “It’s about their comfort and feeling.”
“It’s also a fact,” adds Grace, “because he’s a biological male and it’s not hate to say. It’s just that we want to be comfortable.”
“Speaking of women’s rights,” recalled Grace, “we should have the right to go to the bathroom without having a man there.”