(EDITOR’S NOTE, 10/8/18, 3:01 PM ET: This article has been updated to clarify that the school remains unnamed by local media. This article will be updated in the event the name of the school becomes public knowledge.) 

A lockdown drill at a Stafford County middle school in Virginia exposed a flaw in active shooter policies created by transphobia that could prove fatal.

A transgender student at the school — which remains unnamed in local media reports — was forced to sit on the bleachers, in the open, while teachers debated what place to have her shelter would be safest — for the cisgender students. The teachers eventually settled on the idea that she should sit in the hallway outside both locker rooms, while all her classmates were allowed to shelter inside the rooms.

“Let me be clear. During an event that prepares children to survive an attack by actual assailants, she was treated as if she was so much of a danger to peers that she was left exposed and vulnerable,” said Equality Stafford.

This startling example of transphobia — which could lead to the death of the student if an active shooter actually attacked — sparked outrage in the community, and that outrage has had an effect.

“The new superintendent has requested a review of all protocols and procedures to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and respect,” said school spokesperson Sherrie Johnson. “We take such matters very seriously and they will be addressed.”

That said, Johnson apparently did not specifically state if the school district wanted to address the needs of the transgender student in particular.

This story is another in a line of transgender students being unsafe in schools. In August, Oklahoma parents threatened grotesque violence against a transgender 12-year-old to such an extreme that the entire school district was closed for multiple days at the request of local police.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been a leader in academic transphobia. DeVos has stuck to her decision to exclude transgender students from Title IX protections, despite a ruling that Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination extends to gender identity.

Equality Stafford plans to protest the school board on Tuesday.


Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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