Missouri Protest Sparks Controversy

Missouri Protest Sparks Controversy

Hillsboro, Missouri, a small town with less than 3,000 people, recently sparked a heated discussion in the LGBT community.

Lila Perry, 17, a transgender girl, has struggled with her gender identity since she was 13, which is when she began to feel like a girl. This August, Perry began her senior year by dressing like a girl. Perry also began to change in the girls’ locker room and using the girls’ bathroom, ignoring the school’s offer of a single-occupancy restroom.

However, within the first two weeks the other girls made it clear that she was not welcomed. As Perry still has male anatomy, the students felt uncomfortable with her using the same locker room as them. The other girls told their parents about their discomfort, and those parents then brought it up at the school board meeting, Aug 27.

The parents had a formal petition, which they read out to the board. They asked the school to stop catering to “confused teenagers who want to be something they are not sexually.” Others threatened to sue the school if they didn’t comply. However, the school board refused to force Perry to stop using the bathrooms and locker rooms.

In response, the students of Hillsboro High School organized a walkout as a form of protest. Monday, Aug. 31, more than 150 students participated in the protest. Perry, fearing for her safety, dropped her gym class prior to the walkout, but the students continued anyways.

Hillsboro senior Sydney Dye, one of the students who organized the protest, claimed that the protest was not carried out with ill intentions. “This protest wasn’t out to bully Lila or call her out on anything,” said Dye, “It was so the students could have a voice.”

Dye also made it clear that the students believed that Perry was a girl, but that they still weren’t comfortable with her in their locker room. “I believe that Lila is a female,” Dye said, “The only thing that bothers me is that Lila was in the girls’ locker room. Some girls already have insecurity problems getting dressed in front of other girls as it is, much less in front of a boy.”

Once the media brought attention to the protest, discussion of transgender teens’ rights spread like wildfire. Social media exploded with questions of who was right in the conflict and brought up a hard question for many teenagers: Would they be comfortable with a transgender student using the same facilities as them?

Unlike Missouri, which is one of the 28 states with no laws against LGBT discrimination, California has laws that protect transgender students. So here at Rio, anyone can use the bathroom or locker room that they feel comfortable in. Still, Rio Seniors were asked their opinion on what they would do in that situation.

Senior Hannah Oldfield had no problem with the idea , “I would be okay with them using the same locker rooms as me,” Oldfield said.

Senior Andrea Zapata, agrees that transgender students should be able to choose which facilities to use, “I don’t see why it would be a problem,” Zapata said, “I think it’s their right to do what makes them feel comfortable at school.”

The conflicting views on transgender students, and transgender people in general, have highlighted a serious issue in the LGBT community and created a discussion that won’t end until there is a set solution.