Controversy has erupted at an Iowa high school. Students at Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs are not all comfortable with a transgender student using the female restroom. The Iowa Standard has talked with parents of students at the school and they have made their concerns clear.
The Iowa Standard was told that the school district previously accomodated transgender students by allowing them to use a family restroom, the nurse’s office restroom or a staff restroom in a counseling office.
However, as of Tuesday, a transgender student decided to walk into the girls restroom.
Bridgette Bellows, principal of Abraham Lincoln High School, sent an email to staff on Wednesday afternoon. The email said:
“All students will be treated with respect in our school. Students are allowed to use the bathroom that matches with their gender identity. However, we ask that all transgender students have a conversation with an administrator or counselor prior to making the decision to use a different bathroom so that we can ensure all students (including themselves) are safe. This gives us an opportunity to talk with teachers who have classrooms near those bathroom areas, call parents if needed, etc. The gender neutral bathrooms in the main office are available for use by ALL students. The nurse’s office is also available for transgender students who need a more private space.”
A female student was in the restroom when the transgender student entered. She reportedly complained to administration.
Superintendent Vicki Murillo told the Council Bluffs newspaper there’s never been an issue or any formal complaints filed with the district over the situation from students, parents or faculty.
“No they didn’t,” said one of the concerned parents who reached out to The Iowa Standard. “Because up until last Tuesday no boy had gone into a girls restroom or gym locker room and no girl had done vice versa.”
After the issue became widespread, students decided to organize a walkout. This too was addressed in Principal Bellows’ email.
“No student has been or will be suspended for wanting to petition for or against something. Students have the right to disagree with one another but we would always ask that they do so in a respectful manner. I think it is OK to talk with them about ways to disagree or to express themselves in ways that do not disrupt the learning environment. If a student chooses to walk out tomorrow, natural consequences will apply such as not being able to complete an assignment or being marked unverified.”
That statement drew the ire of some because participation in last year’s walkout over the Parkland shooting in Florida did not carry any natural consequences, according to parents. Administrators did not organize or encourage the walkout, according to media reports, but a parent of an Abraham Lincoln student said their child was “reminded” of the walkout by Principal Bellows.
This parent’s child ended up going outside during the walkout because the student was told it was to memorialize the Parkland victims. However, most of the signs were all about ending gun violence, according to the parent.
This parent’s child did not have anything placed on their record, which indicates to them there were no natural consequences for participating in this walkout.
Unverified is the new terminology for an unexcused absence, according to a parent of one of the students at Abraham Lincoln.
The Iowa Standard has received video of an incident that happened after the walkout. A female student is seen wearing a hat entering a boys restroom. She takes a few steps into the restroom but comes right back out. A group of other female students is applauding and cheering. She was approached by staff who calls for a police officer to come and escort the student to the office.
On the way, she’s given a high five by another student.
The Iowa Standard was told that she was suspended and her dad as well as some other folks spent the rest of the afternoon outside the school across the street with signs in protest.
“My (kids), anybody’s (kids) should not be exposed to that situation at school,” said one of the concerned parents.