STAFFORD COUNTY, Va. — A transgender middle school student in Virginia was left sitting alone in the gym during an active shooter drill because teachers were unsure of which locker room to shelter her in, an LGBTQ advocacy group said earlier this month.
A group of concerned parents, friends and neighbors plan to protest at the Stafford County School Board meeting Tuesday night, WUSA in Washington, D.C., reported.
Equality Stafford members spoke out about the issue on the group's Facebook page last week.
"When the drill began, a particular class of children took shelter in the bathroom/locker room nearest them as they were in PE," the post read. "One student was prevented from entering either the boys' or girls' locker room while the teachers discussed where she should go. The student was forced to watch the adults charged with her care, debate the safest place (for the other students) to have her shelter."
The girl was told to sit in the gym with a teacher until the drill was over, the post read. After further debate by the teachers, the girl was told to sit in the locker room hallway, away from her classmates.
"Let me be clear," the Facebook post read. "During an event that prepares children to survive an attack by actual assailants, she was treated as if she was so much of a danger to peers that she was left exposed and vulnerable."
Sherrie Johnson, a spokeswoman for Stafford County Public Schools, told WUSA in a statement that the district's new superintendent, Scott Kizner, has requested a review of all protocols and procedures "to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and respect."
"We take such matters very seriously and they will be addressed," Johnson said. "The welfare of all students is of the utmost importance for SCPS."
When a reporter for the news station asked Johnson if the student should have been allowed in the girls’ locker room because she identifies as female, Johnson would only say that policies and procedures are under review.
Commenters on the Equality Stafford page were aghast at the teachers’ actions.
"So, if this had been an actual emergency, would they have let this child die while they tried to identify for this child which locker room would save this child's life?" one woman wrote.
Others questioned why the children were being separated during the mock emergency. A woman who identified herself as a pediatrician called the issue one of “human dignity on all fronts.”
Another woman who appeared to be an elementary school or preschool teacher wrote that the teachers should be reprimanded.
"The goal is how fast you move, not if you are in the right space," she wrote. "I had to evacuate 4-year-olds during a tornado and we all went into the women's bathroom. These kids should have been placed into the closest room, no debate needed. A murderer doesn't care (about) your gender, adopted or born with."
The Equality Stafford member who wrote the original post wrote that it was “important to highlight that the child’s PE teachers are not the bad guys.”
"They are teachers without guidance in a county without guidance for these issues," the post read. "They were following that they were told to do."
One commenter pointed out that schools hold drills to figure out the logistics of keeping the children safe before an actual emergency. He called the criticism of the teachers short-sighted and said that, as the issue of transgender students becomes more common in the schools, incidents like the one at the middle school will become less frequent.
"In a brand-new situation, people stopped and talked about the best solution, so this problem only has to happen once," the man wrote. "I say bravo to those who took action."
Cox Media Group