Schools change bathroom policy after transgender student fights back

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(Alberto Mier/CNN)

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. — A South Carolina school district is updating its policy to allow transgender students to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

The news comes one week after a transgender student threatened legal action against Horry County Schools for suspending him for using the “wrong” bathroom.

The student, who wished to not be identified for fear of outing himself, said a teacher followed him to the bathroom this year. He used the boys’ restroom despite recent orders from the school to use the girls’ facilities or the nurse’s bathroom, and he was suspended for one day.

The suspension will be removed from his record, Superintendent Rick Maxey said in a letter to the Transgender Law Center that was shared with CNN. Horry County Schools did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation.

“I assure you that the Horry County School District will make every effort to be in full compliance with Title IX. We also will continue to be a welcoming school environment for all students,” Maxey said in an earlier statement to CNN.

The student decided to enroll in online classes rather than return to school.

Before his senior year, he had been using the boys’ room since seventh grade without a problem, according to his mother and his lawyer. Then, in October, a teacher complained, and school administrators told him he could no longer use the boys’ room. After word got out among the school administration, some teachers started using female pronouns to refer to him, effectively outing him, he said.

He has not decided whether to return to the Horry County Schools. His grades have improved since he left, and he’s on track to finish early. But he hopes to participate in graduation, his mother said.

“We are so grateful and excited about this outcome, and that my son might now be able to walk across the stage and graduate with his class,” said Lynne, the student’s mother. “While this doesn’t erase the harm done to my son, it means a lot to us that no other student in the district will have to go through what my son went through.”

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