Parent wants rural Ga. school to let trans elementary student use boys’ restroom
written by ryan watkins for the georgia voice weekly newspaper - 26 august 2011
More than 2,300 people have signed a petition on Change.org calling on the McIntosh County Public School system to allow a seven-year-old transgender child the right to use the boys’ restroom.
The petition was created by Tommy Theollyn, a 28-year-old transgender man from Townsend, Ga., after he said he was told by McIntosh County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. William Hunter that his child, D., would not be allowed to use the boy’s restroom at Todd Grant Elementary School.
“My child is transgender; put simply this means he looks like and identifies as a boy, but has the body parts assigned to girls,” Theollyn states in the petition. “Forcing him to use a bathroom that does not match his presentation effectively discloses his status as a transgender child and thus endangers him.”
Petition: Superintendent Hunter: Allow my transgender son to use the boys bathroom at school!
Theollyn is D.’s biological mother, but he transitioned when his child was just a year old. Theollyn said in an interview that the child, who is in second grade, began living as a boy last year.
Theollyn said he met with his child’s teacher before the school year to discuss the situation. Theollyn said the teacher was accommodating and told him that D. would be given a hall pass to use whichever restroom he wanted when other children were not present.
The first day of the 2011/12 school year in McIntosh County was Tuesday, Aug. 23. On the first day, Theollyn said his mother walked D. to his classroom and was informed that D. would have to use the girl’s restroom.
“We thought there wasn’t an issue, but when he went to the first day of school he was told they had to use the girl’s restroom,” Theollyn said.
An impromptu meeting with the school principal and the district’s superintendent followed.
“It got nasty quickly,” Theollyn said. “It turned into threats almost immediately.”
Theollyn said that Hunter threatened to call child services during the meeting. The next day, Theollyn pulled his son from the school over concerns for his safety.
“We’re in a very traditionally Southern county,” Theollyn said. “The threat of violence is real. We’re feeling it. We’re scared. But does that mean that you stay silent? Does that mean you don’t challenge it? Fear is not a good reason to decide to do something.”
Calls to Dr. Hunter and other district officials have not been returned.
A transgender child
Theollyn says that his son began expressing his own gender identity as early as age 18 months.
“The first time he told me he was a boy he was about 18 months old,” Theollyn said.
In early 2010, D. began insisting that he be identified as a boy. Theollyn said that D. asked to have his head shaved and began throwing away and hiding his girl’s clothing.
“For a while he was saying he really didn’t care, that he was above all that gender stuff. Then one day he asked us to shave his head. He said, ‘I can’t wear girls clothes. I need to look like a boy.’”
Theollyn said at first, he thought D. was just emulating him. Other people who knew D. also expressed the same feelings.
“That really did not go well in a lot of ways,” Theollyn said. “He was very disappointed by the response.”
D. was home-schooled prior to this year. Theollyn said that his son wanted to go to public school because he wants to be a veterinarian and he wanted to interact with children his age. Theollyn said that D. felt being in home school would hurt his chances of becoming a vet.
“He was so ready,” Theollyn said. “It’s such a disappointment. He’s got a bookbag full of supplies he can’t use. He’s very clearly frustrated and disappointed.”
Theollyn said that he and D. have been working with a doctor.
What’s next for D.?
Theollyn said that he reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union earlier this week to discuss the incident. The state chapter forwarded the case to the organization’s main office in New York, according to Theollyn. He said he has not heard back.
Theollyn said he will present members of the McIntosh School board with educational material and a copy of the Change.org petition during a mid-September school board meeting.
“There’s several things I want to discuss,” he said. “I have no idea how that’s going to go.”
In the meantime, D. is back to learning at home.
“I don’t want to give him the message that it’s OK to treat people this way,” Theollyn said. “At the same time, I also know where that leaves us — back at home school.”
more re: kids in public; or, a thing i like a lot about my department
i really like that my department is mostly women, many of whom are mothers or sisters who take care of their younger siblings
and i really like these folks feel ok with letting their children/siblings hangout in the department while they study or meet with profs or use the internet
and i like that said kids are generally cool folks who are variously chill and interesting and cute and funny and smart, and i like their presence here
and, idk, interacting with kids for a few hours at a time a couple of days a week at my workplace probably does make me a less efficient employee, but so does tumblr and eating and friendships with other adults and bureaucracy and getting payed crap for my work, and the last two of those things aren’t even fun
even if they do sometimes ask awkward questions about why i have a big dark red mark on my neck or about why we have issues of a magazine called bitch on display for reading in the front office
eta: written b/c i just had an hour talking with a five year old about how carpets are made, and how cool aliens are, and how much easier it is to spell in spanish than english, and it was a blast
Every time someone’s trying to persuade another that a terrible injustice is occurring, ‘children’ are evoked like it’s the only way to present an atrocity in a form people can’t poke holes in, or a way of making a point that they’ll swallow. It reads like a final, desperate attempt to wrench sympathy and attention from the reader while you safeguard your stance. Seems like whenever that occurs in a discussion the other person does just that—swallows hir words—and not in some heartsinking admission but like “DEAD END” ; “I still don’t agree/give a shit but I’ll save that so it doesn’t follow a sentence with babies in it, cuz I’m supposed to care, rite?” The only time violence matters is when it’s against children cuz ‘adults’ aren’t enough? The reason a war in Iraq is wrong is cuz children experience it, too?
Maybe I’m missing something but the second that’s inserted into conversation I’m checked out. It’s a God Bless America bumper sticker. It’s two anxietyridden adults in a dog park with pets as middlemen for connecting with each other. Shit’s always easier when you can outsource your vulnerability to somewhere else. ‘Adults’ don’t feel the brunt cuz they’ve practiced not feeling for so long? Calling that shit, if not bullshit. And maybe so, but that’s supposed to be admirable? Later man, hit me up when we can be real.
Right now I am particularly interested in critical pedagogy/anti-oppressive education/teaching for social justice, especially early childhood education.
EDIT: I have already read Pedagogy of the Oppressed duuuuuh
Other things are cool, too. Let me know the subject of the book as well as the title!
might be a bit out of the scope of what you’re asking for here, but i <3 the work of susan talburt around queer youth educationy stuff
she co-edited youth and sexualities: pleasure, subversion, and insubordination in and out of schools and the upcoming youth studies: keywords and movements (… which actually has a different title than the one amazon decided to list, so, yeah), and she wrote subject to identity: knowledge, sexuality, and academic practices in higher education
google books has most of her very smart chapter from youth and sexualities, “intelligibility and narrating queer youth”
she’s also published pretty extensively in journals; i would recommend in particular checking out “constructions of lgbt youth: opening up subject positions” from theory into practice 43(2) and “governing for responsibility and with love: parents and children between home and school” from educational theory 58(1), which she wrote with ben baez and which is probably her work most immediately relevant to early childhoody stuff
while her work is definitely not largely in the realm of childhood education, she does really good stuff in theorizing how various neoliberal-conservative political investments play out in the ways that education works in the u.s. and latin america, and she’s very much worth reading for her willingness to question, from a queer- and lefty-influenced perspective, the efficacy and underlying mechanisms of a lot of ‘good’-seeming, liberal approaches to pedagogyfrom avry-deactivated20110415