Transphobia can circle the globe in a matter of hours. A viral story from Colorado claims that a transgender student at a local high school has been harassing girls in the women’s restrooms throughout the school. As a result the female student body may lose access to facilities.
A male student at Florence High School who claims to be a transgender has been harrassing girls in the bathroom. When parents complained, school officials said the boy’s rights as a transgender trumped their daughters’ privacy rights.
As the controversy grew, some students were threatened with being kicked off athletic teams or charged with hate crimes if they continued to voice concerns.
The Pacific Justice Institute sent the school a letter warning against squelching privacy rights.
“We’re not going to stand by and let 99.7 percent of our students lose their privacy and free speech rights just because .3 percent of the population are gender-confused,” the PJI wrote.
The story has been picked up by media outlets uncritically, without fact-checking the source; something even the original reported failed to do. This gap was finally filled by blogger Cristan on the website Transadvocate.
Cristan did something other reporters failed to do, and phoned the school administrator to find out first hand what was actually happening. From the her interview (a recording of the conversation is available on her blog), the facts of the case are somewhat different that the media has portrayed.
Without transcribing the entire interview, the essence of the events are that a couple of parents who were uncomfortable were the presence of the transgender girl in the female restrooms, and called the media. There has been no other complaints or issues from students or parents.
Cristan also has a screen shot of a Facebook post by a student at the school.
The harassment and abuse happening in the women’s rooms is aimed at the transgender student by a few parents who are trying to force their personal beliefs on the rest if the community, and aren’t above telling a few lies to push their agenda. If this other student is to believed, there is actual violence happening in the men’s rooms. There may not be absolute verification of this, but given the violence in our society that occurs to trans people every day, it is very believable.
Sometimes fact-checking can be a be a pain in the ass, especially when it interferes with a story that is already written on the reporters mind.