About 60 Abraham Lincoln High School students left the classroom Thursday morning in a walkout in which groups showed opposition — and support — for a transgender student who identifies as female and wishes to use the women’s bathroom at school.

The students split into two groups at 10:30 a.m. outside the main entrance.

One group, which supported the student, walked up the hill near the track, while the second, opposing group remained near the entrance.

The first group could be heard chanting “equality,” while the second chanted “We want our privacy, he is a male,” and “One over all is not fair.”

Council Bluffs Community School District Superintendent Vicki Murillo said the walkout stemmed from a student at the school who did not want to be in the same restroom as a transgender student.

“I was very proud of how the students peacefully conducted themselves. It’s important to us to let students express their opinions as long as it’s done in a respectful way,” Murillo said.

No disciplinary actions were taken for those who participated in the walkout. It lasted for about 15 minutes before students returned to class.

The school district’s policy regarding transgender students follows the U.S. Department of Education’s guidelines laid out in “Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students,” which can be found online at ed.gov.

Sign up for World-Herald news alerts

Be the first to know when news happens. Get the latest breaking headlines sent straight to your inbox.

“Schools often segregate restrooms and locker rooms by sex, but some schools have policies that students must be permitted to access facilities consistent with their gender identity and not be required to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or alternative facilities,” the publication states.

Murillo said there is a process in place between transgender or transitioning students and the school administration to come to an understanding, so the student may have permission to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.

Federal guidelines state schools “generally rely on students’ or their parents’ or guardians’ expression of their gender identity for confirmation.

“Although schools sometimes request some form of confirmation, they generally accept the student’s asserted gender identity,” the policy states.

The guidelines listed examples of how various school districts in the country have handled the situation, like accepting a statement from the student or a letter from an adult familiar with the student’s situation. Another district developed administrative guidelines “noting that being transgender involves more than a casual declaration of gender identity or expression but does not require proof of a formal evaluation and diagnosis.”

The school is working with the student in question to complete the vetting process, said Diane Ostrowski, spokesperson for Council Bluffs Community Schools.

Counselors are also available to speak with students regarding their gender identity, among other subjects. The high school has a gender-neutral restroom anyone can use.

“We’ve never had an issue,” Murillo said. No formal complaints have been filed with the district over the situation from students, parents or faculty, she added. “We’ve had a speaker come in the past to talk with students about it, and we’re exploring the next step for more awareness.”

Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you

Load comments