A military advocacy group has called on the director of Defense Department schools to step in and overrule a district superintendent’s decision not to allow an 11-year-old transgender student to use the girls' restroom at a DoD school in Germany.
“This superintendent's decision to violate the civil rights of this transgender student is alarming," said Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the
American Military Partner Association, an organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military families, in a statement announcing the circumstances, which were first
reported by NBC News. "All students, regardless of their gender identity, deserve to be able to go to school in an environment free from discrimination and harassment.”
The child of a military member reportedly was barred from using the girls’ restroom at Ramstein Intermediate School by the district superintendent, Elizabeth Dunham. The move reversed a ruling by the school's principal: School officials had sent a letter to parents of children in the child’s class in late September outlining how they would support the child’s transition, then sent a follow-up email saying the student would begin using the girls' room, according to the report.
DoDEA officials did not immediately provide information about why the district superintendent made the decision not to allow the child to use the girls’ restroom just outside her classroom.
The 11-year-old is "terrified" of using the boys' room, the student's mother told NBC, adding that she was "absolutely furious" regarding her child's treatment by school administrators. The report states that the child must go down three floors, leave the building, and cross the courtyard to another building to use a gender-neutral restroom.
“The Department of Defense school system is currently observing October as National Bullying Prevention Month, yet this superintendent has unacceptably chosen to single out and discriminate against a student because of her gender identity,” AMPA’s Broadway-Mack said. “Transgender youth already face high rates of marginalization, bullying, and harassment, and we urge the director of the Department of Defense Education Activity, Mr. Thomas Brady, to immediately step in and correct this unconscionable decision.”
In a DoD statement, officials said the assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs “will engage and reaffirm the guidance with schools and other facilities that provide services to school aged children.”
“Students who are transgender currently attend DoDEA schools, just as they attend other school districts across the nation. It is the Department of Defense’s position, consistent with the U.S. Attorney General’s opinion, that discrimination based on gender identity is a form of sex discrimination,” officials stated.
On May 13, the Education and Justice departments issued guidance advising school districts to allow students who are transgender to use restroom facilities and other accommodations consistent with their gender identity.
At that time, DoDEA officials told Military Times they are reviewing their practices for supporting transgender students. Information was not immediately available about whether that review had been completed. At that time, DoDEA schools were supporting students on a case-by-case basis.
One teacher at a DoD school at a military installation in the south told Military Times on Friday that a transgender student in her elementary school has consistently used the boys’ restroom and it has never been an issue with students or school administrators.
The Ramstein child -- who now goes by Blue, but who was not identified by full name in the NBC article -- has been welcomed and accepted by the vast majority of the other 900 students at the school, as well as the school’s administration, according to the report.
“DoDEA is committed to ensuring that students are provided a safe and secure learning environment,” according to the DoD statement.
Karen Jowers covers military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times. She can be reached at