Trans Student Left Outside


Peyton Grattino

Transgender student Emily Bacon (12) gives the camera a long hard stare, showing her powerful emotion regarding the topic of a young student left in the hallway of a Virginia school during a lockdown.

Elyse Sommer, Staffer

Hushed whispers, shuttered windows, the soft clink of a key being turned.  To a student in any other nation, these quiet noises might become the setting of two people returning home to their children after a date night, or in the worst case, a robbery.  However, to an American student, these sounds represent the beginning of a lockdown, a terrifyingly silent test of patience and resilience. The now commonplace lockdown drills in schools are increasingly more popular in the wake of an influx of tragic school shootings.

What, or who, could be to blame for that?  A recent incident in Virginia suggests that America’s mechanism of coping with these mass shootings, the repetitive yet petrifying lockdown drills bi-monthly or even weekly, may be liable for the danger students are put in every day.

During a lockdown practice drill used to teach staff and students action plans in case of emergencies, like mass shootings, at Stafford County Middle School in Virginia, a transgender student (whose identity has been protected) was told to sit in a locker room hallway, separated from her peers, as her teachers debated which locker room to place her in.  She was eventually left in the hallway for the duration of the lockdown drill, placing her in danger had the disastrous drill been a horrifying reality.

“This is nothing new for the family,” said Lesley Woods, co-facilitator for Equality Stafford, an LGBTQ group dedicated to the protection of LBGT students. “They are a solid family and they are very much in support of their child, and they are really solid advocates for the community. So I would say, all in all, the rest of us are shocked and appalled and motivated to come and speak and learn, but this family – this is their life every day.” Not only did the drill reflect badly on the district, but it also reflects badly on the United States and the systems in place designed to protect us that subscribe to constrictive gender ideals.

“Now four years later, I’m still having to deal with being separated and being treated like an outcast. What happened that day was the most humiliating and embarrassing thing that I have ever dealt with. I had to have teachers debate my safety when it is just common sense,” said the student in a recent Fox News article.

Not only was the incident terrifying for the student and her family, but it’s scary for all trans students.  The Virginia drill sets a horrifying precedent.

“I would hope most of us would understand that that is not right. You’re basically telling this person that just because we don’t understand [you], you can just be in harm’s way,” said Emily Bacon (12) about the situation in Virginia. “I’m upset…It’s quite literally saying that their life matters less than the rest of these people because we know where they fit in a category.”

Following the publication of her status and experience in The Guide earlier this year, Bacon found herself getting asked questions about her identity and fielding mean comments.  “Throughout my entire high school career, I’ve gotten stares, questions and people behind me whispering ‘what is it’ and stuff like that… But I feel safe here, I’m not afraid to tell people what I think… I’ve never been made uncomfortable here.”

Whether you’re male or female, tall or short, blond or brunette, our differences should unite us, not set us apart.  The incident in Virginia was an example of a fearful society, in which a person who doesn’t fit in a box is set apart.  At CT, as Bacon has attested, we have a society of love and acceptance, where individuals are treated equally, no matter their orientation.