TEMPLE, Texas — Dozens of Temple High School students staged a protest Wednesday morning in support of a transgender student who was denied female bathroom and locker room privileges.
"I just wanted to help make a change. Do whatever I could," said Temple ISD Junior Akayla Shahan.
"We said what we had to say. We will not be silenced," said Temple ISD student Stevie Williams.
Videos and pictures were shared on social media showing students protesting inside and outside of the school.
Temple Independent School District spokesperson Christine Parks said "additional security and Temple PD were on campus to help ensure the safety of staff and students."
Parks said protests took place during third period and remained peaceful.
"Students have the right to peaceful protests," Parks said. "However, if such activities result in student behaviors such as skipping class or leaving a classroom without permission, then these Student Code of Conduct violations will result in consequences as outlined in the Code of Conduct."
According to Temple ISD, all campus activities have continued as normal.
The protests were in support of a 16-year-old transgender girl named Kendall Tinoco, who posted to Instagram on Sept. 22 that a teacher told her she could not use the female locker room. The post quickly went viral with more than 4,000 likes.
"I fought for my place to be treated equally, and people are aware of that," said Tinoco. "A lot of my teachers have supported me. This is my junior year of high school. Before I had had no problem using the restroom or the locker room until this year."
Parks told 6 News the high school administration met with the student and parent that week to review the district's Enrollment of Transgender Students guidelines.
The guidelines consist of three basic points.
- A student must be identified by his or her "legal surname" as it appears on the student's birth certificate or other documented proof of the student's identity, or in a court order that changes the student's name.
- Students must dress in accordance with the dress code.
- In order to allow privacy for all students, a "gender-neutral" restroom, locker room or changing area, and/or overnight facility (i.e. faculty unisex restrooms or nurse's office) will be available to any transgender student.
Superintendent Dr. Bobby Ott said he was at the high school during the protests.
"I was blown away by the amount of people there to support her. I was really proud," said Jamesia Johnson, a former Temple ISD student.
Tinoco said she appreciates the support from her classmates.
"Overall, I was really proud to see all of the people come together and stand for one another. Just support after support after support. It was really amazing," said Tinoco.