Kendall Tinoco: Trans student barred from girls' locker room, kids gather in protest
Kendall Tinoco was denied access to the girls' locker room because there were ‘actual girls in there'
On September 22, a 16-year-old student from Texas called Kendall Tinoco claimed on Instagram that she had been discriminated against by a teacher at her school. The transgender student, a junior at Temple High School, wrote, “over the past few years I've been in transition, to be more specific, I've been using the females restroom since the 7th grade. Teachers and staff has had no issue with it until now, earlier this month I was told I couldn't use the locker room because there were ‘actual girls’ in there.”
“I let it slide thinking my teacher was transphobic and brushed it off continuing to use it,” she said, adding that on September 22, “yet again my teacher mentioned I could not use the locker room because I am trans, I mentioned to her that I have a form specifically saying she has no right to tell a student that let alone tell them what locker room or restroom to use. I told her my situation regardless she insisted I change in a closet with a male dancer which is out of my comfort zone since I am female.”
Tinoco said she went to the office after that period and informed the AP of the situation. Unfortunately for her, he told Tinoco the same thing. “They told me they would email the form to their boss to let them decide if I was valid to be female or not,” she wrote. “It's upsetting I'm having to talk to multiple people and get CONFIRMATION about my gender and rights. If it was such a big deal to let a straight transgender female use the locker room then what about the lesbians or the bisexuals?”
“This is beyond disgusting and against the policy of the US Department of education,” she said. “I hope y'all understand how embarrassing and how discriminatory this situation is.”
Following her Instagram post, Tinoco's classmates rallied around her in a trans rights protest at their school. “[I] was thinking back on how many trans girls she [may have] told that to, or trans boys that she told that to. I couldn't imagine that they hadn't done anything about it,” Tinoco told Teen Vogue. “It was really sad and I didn't want to think that she had told anybody else [that]. I wanted to share my story so that way, people knew what she was doing. I wanted them to know that she was in the wrong.”
Teen Vogue reported that a week after the post, a group of students planned a transgender rights protest and walkout in support of Tinoco, and encouraged participants to bring pride flags and attire. The students asked Tinoco to join and lead them, and on September 29, a spirited rally took place. She said, “What I thought would happen [after posting] was maybe like a few students commenting, ‘Yeah, this is wrong,’ or like ‘Let's have a meeting with a teacher’ or something. I didn't think it was going to come this far.”
“I thought maybe 20 people were going to show up,” said Tinoco. “Last time I heard, I want to say it was about 300, 400 kids that showed up. It was crazy seeing that support. It was supposed to be silent and peaceful, and everybody was just like, ‘Trans lives’ and ‘Everybody wants this change.’ And it was overwhelming. The support was overwhelming — in a good way. I loved it. It was a pretty great protest.”
In August, the Department of Education posted a resource page for LGBTQ students, including a letter reminding schools that gender-based discrimination is prohibited under Title IX. The Office of Civil Rights can investigate situations including trans students being barred from using the correct bathroom. But school leadership allegedly told Tinoco that they could not allow her to use the girls' restroom, citing a rule in their school district handbook that they are required to follow.
Christine Parks, a spokesperson for the Temple Independent School District, shared that school administration met with both the student and parent that week to review the district’s Enrollment of Transgender Students guidelines. The guidelines reportedly note that a "gender-neutral" restroom, locker room or changing area, and/or overnight facilities like unisex faculty restrooms or the nurse’s office will be accessible to transgender students.