Recently, a Virginia middle school held a lockdown drill as part of its safety plan. During the drill, a 14-year-old transgender student was prevented from accessing the safety of the building’s locker rooms. The student, who identifies as a girl, was prevented from entering either the girls’ or the boys’ locker room. Instead, she was asked to sit alone on the bleachers as teachers debated which room was more appropriate.
The district has experienced the expected backlash to the incident on social media. Since it occurred, the district’s new superintendent has requested a review of safety protocols and procedures to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and respect.
This news story raises an important point for school districts to consider: how will every student be protected when safety plans are implemented?
Remember that school safety plans are distinct from district policies dealing with students being able to use restrooms or locker rooms associated with their identified gender. There is an urgency in any lockdown drill that would preclude selectivity based on gender or other traits. In a lockdown situation, and in drills practicing for worst-case scenarios, all students and staff simply need to find shelter in any safe and secure location as quickly as possible.