150 High Students in Missouri Stage Protest after Transgender Student Requests Access to Female Locker Room: 'Girl's Rights Matter'

Sep 02, 2015 02:06 PM EDT

Over 150 students walked out of class at a Missouri high school this week to stage protests after a student, who identifies as a transgender girl, requested access to the girls' locker room and bathrooms when changing for a PE class.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the students protested for about two hours on Monday at Hillsboro High School near St. Louis following a debate involving 17-year-old high school senior Lila Perry, who was born as a male but identifies as a female.

"I find it offensive because Lila has not went [sic] through any procedure to become female, putting on a dress and putting on a wig is not transgender to me," Hillsboro student Sophie Beel told a St. Louis Fox News affiliate.

The student protest came on the heels of a school board meeting on Thursday, which was attended by so many parents it was moved to a bigger location. In their discussions with the school board, the parents argued that no biological male should be permitted to use the same locker room as teenage girls, regardless of how they self-identify.

"My goal is for the district and parents to have a policy discussion," said Derrick Good, a lawyer who has two daughters in the district and wants students to use either facilities based on their biological sex or other gender-neutral facilities.

The New York Times reports he is currently working with Alliance Defending Freedom, to draft a "student physical privacy policy" and submit it to the district, which has about 3,500 students.

"It's a violation of my daughters' rights to privacy to not have a policy," he said.

After the student protest, 41-year-old Jeff Childs, who has a niece and nephew attending an elementary school in Hillsboro, protested outside the school with his 21-year-old son. They displayed signs that read "Girls Rights Matter."

"This needs to stop before it goes too far," Childs told the Post-Dispatch. "I'm not trying to be ignorant, but [the transgender student] is bringing it out in public for everybody else to deal with."

Perry, who dropped out of the physical education class that prompted her to request use of the girls' locker room, spent two hours in her guidance counselor's office during the protests.

"It wasn't too long ago [that] white people were saying 'I don't feel comfortable sharing a bathroom with a black person,' and history repeats itself," Perry told Fox 2, the local St. Louis Fox affiliate. "I think this is pure and simple bigotry. I think they are using the claim that they're uncomfortable as an excuse to target me."

Meanwhile, on Monday, the school district's superintendent released a statement saying that the district "will promote tolerance and acceptance of all students" no matter their race, nationality, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. It added that the district would not tolerate "bullying" or "harassing behaviors of any type in any form," the Dispatch reported.