Officials in Elko, Nevada have unanimously denied a request from a transgender middle school student to use his preferred restrooms and locker room.
The Elko Daily Free Press newspaper reported Wednesday that the Elko County School Board decided Tuesday not to allow the 13-year-old transgender boy to use the facilities designated for men.
The boy's mother, Michelle Gonzalez, said he is regularly bullied and pleaded with officials to approve his request.
The board has previously said the child can use a unisex restroom for special education students — a decision Gonzalez said promotes segregation.
Parents who spoke against the request said it could make other students uncomfortable and endanger the transgender child.
Elko School Board Trustee Cindy Elquist agreed, citing the board's mission to make policies that are best for all students.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the Washington-based National Center for Transgender Equality, previously told Al Jazeera in an interview that trans advocates are anticipating more standoffs about trans students’ bathroom rights at school.
“We are going to battle over bathrooms,” she said.
That’s because lawmakers in several U.S. states — including Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota and Nevada — have introduced bills in the last year that would prevent trans students from using the bathroom facilities corresponding to their gender identities while at school.
California, on the other hand, passed a law in 2013 that requires the state’s public schools to allow trans students to use bathrooms and play on the sports teams that match their gender identities.
The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, a think tank that researches sexual orientation and gender identity, released a study in 2013 about the effects of denying access to certain bathrooms on transgender individuals. The study found that nearly 60 percent of the transgender people it surveyed said they had avoided going out in public because of worries about safe access to public restrooms, and 54 percent said they had physical problems like dehydration or kidney infections from trying to avoid using public bathrooms.
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press