Transgendered teen faced suspension for using girls washroom
A mother and her daughter are speaking out after the transgendered teen was suspended for using the girls washroom at her high school.
Judy Dwyer says her daughter Jessica Durling is like any other teenager. She enjoys spending time with her friends and likes going to school, at least, she did until last week.
The Nova Scotia teen says she was called into her principal’s office at Hants East Rural High and told she would be suspended for a day for using the girls washroom.
“I was shocked, hurt,” says the 17-year-old. “I thought about not just me, but everyone who will get hurt by this. I just want to live a normal life, you know.”
The teen has been using the girls washroom all year, and there hadn’t been any complaints. But her friend says she knew it wasn’t sitting well with some students.
“A lot of students complained. I hear in class all the time, they’re like, they feel so disgusted that she’s in the bathroom,” says Skye Parker.
Finally, a student made an official complaint and Durling was suspended.
Dwyer says she was told her daughter would be suspended indefinitely if she continued to use the girls washroom.
She also says it is very painful to see her daughter being targeted for simply being herself.
“It is wrong for them to discriminate against my child and we need education,” says Dwyer.
Durling’s case isn’t an isolated one; a number of school boards across Nova Scotia are struggling with the same issue.
“We are in this place where we have this population saying ‘OK, I want to be in my school, part of my school. I want to contribute to my community. How can I do that in a meaningful way?’” says Sheena Jamieson, support services co-ordinator for the Youth Project.
“And this other group is saying ‘we don’t know, we haven’t prepared for it,’ so we’re at this point where we need to start preparing.”
Late today, officials at the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board announced they would be dropping the suspension and will be developing new guidelines for schools to serve all of the students in their care.
In the end, Durling never served her one-day suspension.
She was set to appeal the decision Wednesday, but now she can safely return to school and is allowed to continuing using the girls washroom until she wraps up high school in June.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Marie Adsett