Hundreds of students and parents in Missouri were protesting this week against a transgender teenager's request to use the girls' bathrooms and locker rooms at school. Lila Perry, a 17-year-old senior at Hillsboro High School -- about 40 miles from St. Louis -- caused an uproar among residents, some of whom argue she shouldn't be allowed to use girls' facilities, as she's been doing since the school year began on Aug. 13. Perry was designated male at birth but lives as a girl.
“The girls have rights, and they shouldn’t have to share a bathroom with a boy,” local mother Tammy Sorden told the St. Louis Post Dispatch, adding that it's unfair for Perry to get special accommodations "while the girls just have to suck it up."
Perry was living as a gay boy until this past February, when she came out as transgender. She started wearing dresses and a wig, but she had not undergone gender reassignment surgery. At school, Perry began using unisex faculty bathrooms.
— Lila Perry (@transwitchcraft) August 20, 2015
But this year, Perry asked to have access to the girls' locker rooms and bathrooms -- a request the administrators approved. Then the controversy started, with about 200 people coming to an Aug. 27 school board meeting to debate the school's choice, the Washington Post reported. Another 200 students, mostly opposing Perry, walked out of class for two hours on Monday.
Perry was locked in the school's front office during the protest for safety. Despite the demonstrations, she remained firm on her desire to use the girls' rooms. "It wasn't too long ago white people were saying I don't feel comfortable sharing a bathroom with a black person, and history repeats itself," Perry told KTVI.
Her case wasn't the first to turn transgender students' bathroom rights into a national discussion. In Virginia, junior Gavin Grimm -- assigned female at birth but living as a male -- has sued his school district for forcing him to use private facilities. Grimm, who has partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union, alleged that the district violated his constitutional rights.