A school in Kent threatened a transgender student with suspension because she wore the female uniform – and it’s come back to bite them.
Lily, who is a true example at the age of 18, took on a solicitor after her school told her she couldn’t wear the female uniform or make use of the female changing rooms and bathrooms. The teachers also refused to call her by Lily, which is her legal name, or use female pronouns when speaking to her.
She first came out as trans back in January, and when she was out to everyone she made the decision to dress in the female dress code for the school, but was sent home before she even got on school grounds.
Lily said to the Huffington Post: “When I first went it felt really great. I felt like myself. But I was treated like I did something wrong, which was upsetting. Wearing male clothes makes me feel really invalidated and puts me in a low mood for the whole day. They gave me three options: I could come back in the male dress code, go on permanent study leave or find a new school.”
Lily even had support from her fellow students, who signed a petition to allow transgender students like her to follow the dress code they feel most comfortable with. Despite the 200 strong petition, the school remained adamant and forced Lily to wear the male dress code for another six months.
One student commented: “Stocky [the school] says we ‘treat everyone as a family’ but their rules prove that they’re far from it. The top concern should be the welfare of their students and making Stocky a happy place to study. Trans students deserve better from this school.”
Before she got a solicitor, Lily tried to use the 2010 Equalities Act, which requires organisations to treat trans people according to their gender identity except in “very restricted circumstances”. Still the school ignored her plight, and so Lily took the next step of hiring a solicitor.
Talking on why she decided to take the fight to the school, Lily said: “The reason I did it is because I know I’ll be leaving soon and I know there are at least five other transgender students at our school. So I wanted to do it for them as well.”
“Coming out as transgender is very scary but now that I’ve come out looking back it shouldn’t have been that scary. That’s part of the reason I’m doing this, because I want people to know that it’s okay and we have the rights that we have for a reason and we deserve equality. Since everything has gone on, I think the attitude is a lot better at school. To other transgender students I would say: keep fighting your corner, you deserve equality. Don’t let it get you down.”
The school’s apology reads: “I would like to offer an apology for any hurt to you which has been caused by individuals or the school in respect of this situation.” It was never anyone’s intention to cause hurt; on the contrary, St Simon Stock staff, and the pastoral team in particular, have always wanted to support you on this important journey that you are undertaking and remain committed to help you succeed in your education and be happy.”
A spokesperson for Stonewall also chimed in on the situation, saying: “Trans young people are protected in law and should be fully able to wear whichever uniform they choose. For a school to refuse so is not just breaking the law but also deeply hurtful to the trans community. It’s vital that people support the trans community, so we can work toward a world where all young trans people feel able to be themselves at school and are accepted without exception.”