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Transgender Student Petitions Wake Schools To Allow Bathroom Choice

photo of a unisex bathroom sign

A high school student is petitioning the Wake County Public School System to create a policy allowing transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

CJ Lewis's petition on has more than 600 digital signatures.

Former Athens Drive High School student Hayden Riner, 17, is named in the online petition. Riner saysadministrators threatened him with suspension for using the men's room instead of the women's room. Riner says he was told to use a private teachers' bathroom far from his classes. It was sometimes locked, so he frequently missed class time.

'It really felt like I was being segregated,' Riner says. 'They say this is a solution, but it's not. It's separating us, and it's degrading.'

School System Counseling Director Crystal Reardon says she could not comment on the case of any individual student.

Reardon says the schools' non-discrimination policy guides administrators to make decisions about bathroom choice on a case-by-case basis.

"We're making decisions based on the desire of the student, the wishes of the parents and the availability of facilities in the school," she says.

Hayden Riner says a student's comfort in the bathroom shouldn't depend on parental support.

"It is my personal belief that it should be the student's choice. Especially by the time they're of high school age, I believe they should be able to make that decision."

Reardon says administrators have seen the petition and will consider its suggestion.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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