A Trans Teen Was Allegedly Suspended For Using The Bathroom Of His Choice

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So-called "bathroom laws" are a controversial topic in the United States. As places like North Carolina and Mississippi face backlash for their anti-LGBTQ laws, transgender people continue to experience discrimination.

One recent incident allegedly led to the suspension of a South Carolina high school senior who is transgender, CNN reports. The student, who wanted to be identified only as R., told CNN that he has used the boy's restroom since he was in seventh grade, without backlash from his school. But this school year, administrators told him he needed to use the girl's bathroom, CNN reports. After continuing to use the boy's restroom despite this, he allegedly received a one-day suspension. CNN said it could not independently verify the student's claims.

Now, the student fears being "outed," CNN reports, and he's finishing the year through online classes, instead of returning to his school, Socastee High School. But he's fighting back against anti-LGBTQ discrimination. CNN reports that the student is threatening legal action against Horry County Schools, a public school district in South Carolina.
The Transgender Law Center, which is based in California, sent a warning letter to Horry County Schools last Thursday, South Carolina's WMBF News reports. The letter threatens legal action against the district if schools don't allow transgender students to use the restrooms that correspond with their chosen gender.

According to the warning letter, in October of last year, "a teacher had made a complaint about [R.] using the boys' bathroom and that without a note from his doctor, he would not be able to continue to use the boys' bathroom: he had to use either the girls' bathroom or the nurse's restroom from that point on." The Transgender Law Center sent Refinery29 a redacted copy of the letter to the Horry County School District.

The letter also claims that R.'s teachers have "refused to use male pronouns to refer to [R.], despite his clear request to do so."

As CNN notes, if the Transgender Law Center does bring a case against the district, it could be the first test of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' April 19 decision, which ruled in favor of a different transgender teen who wanted to use the restroom of his choice. The court's decision applies to public schools in five states, including South Carolina, CNN explains.

The student told CNN a teacher followed him to the boy's bathroom, which led to the suspension. "Teachers should never be following students to the bathroom unless they reek of cigarette smoke or alcohol," he told CNN.

"The district maintains the privacy of all of its students. The district seeks to accommodate the individual needs of its transgender students in compliance with the law, including Title IX," Teal Britton, a public information officer for the Horry County School District, told Refinery29 in an emailed statement. "We will continue our efforts to ensure a welcoming school environment for all students."

This post has been updated to include a comment from the Horry County School District. We have also reached out to Socastee High School for comment and will update further if we obtain a response.

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