Opinions clash over transgender bathroom policy at school board meeting

DURHAM, NC - MAY 11: A gender neutral sign is posted outside a bathrooms at Oval Park Grill on May 11, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina. Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 (HB2) that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

LANSING, Mich. (WSYM) — “Want to know what’s happening to my son now?” asks Terri Neely, the mother of a young transgender boy in Grass Lake. “He’s rarely going to the bathroom. He’s now not able to make it through a full day of school every day because the depression is setting in because in his mind he is no longer good enough, he is no longer legitimate. The school must not think he is because his mom is forcing him to use the private bathroom to accommodate all the people who must hate him,” she says.

It’s been agonizing for her since the Grass Lake School Board decided to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender that they identify with. They planned on building stalls around the urinals in boys bathrooms for privacy, and in the meantime the transgender students will use the gender neutral bathroom, but that’s been devastating for Neely’s son:

“My mistake in agreeing to this compromise is destroying him and it’s my fault.”

Neely said in front of a crammed meeting that she just wants her son to be happy. Others, opposed to the policy change by the school, stood up as well.

“I think the fact that we have the facilities right now, and what we’re doing now makes sense,” says a community member at the meeting. “We have a boys room, we have a girls room, and we have a transgender room,” he describes referring to the gender neutral bathroom. “That’s fair and equal treatment in my opinion.”

Others went as far as to tell board members they’re going to recall them.

There were supporters for Neely and her family, who spoke about the community being broken apart by this debate and this fight. Something that’s been tough for them, but especially for Neely.

“I am broken that I feel that the people of this community have forced me to compromise on my child’s life,” she says.

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