After about a half dozen parents spoke out against a transgender student using the girls’ restrooms at a New York public school, her mother stood up to defend her daughter.
Other parents said Tuesday at the Sodus school board meeting that they did not care whether the student was transgender, but they did not want her changing next to their daughters in the school locker room.
“I have no problem with transgender, gay, lesbian or anything like that,” said father Kelley Allen. “I am good with it, (but) I have a small problem with the simple fact that they are going to allow a boy in the girls’ bathroom and locker room. We are possibly going to allow girls in the boys’ locker room. I am not good with it in either direction.”
The school notified parents that the district would follow federal Title IX protections for transgender students, but some argued it was unfair to make their children feel uncomfortable to accommodate a classmate.
"I'm compassionate about what he is going through or she is going through, whatever ... but my child has rights, too," said mother Michelle Martinez. “We do believe that people are allowed to make their own choices, and she is uncomfortable with it."
One father of a sixth-grade girl said the issue should be simple.
"When you're born you have a birth certificate that says if you're a boy or girl, what you're born with dictates that," he said.
After about 30 minutes of complaints, the girl’s mother explained the issue from her family’s perspective.
"For years, since she was 3 or 4, she has told me she was a girl, and I wasn't accepting,” said her mother, Jennifer Surridge. “I didn't understand and agree with any of it because I didn't get it.”
Surridge decided to allow her 11-year-old transition as her Christmas present, and she began identifying Monday as a girl at Sodus Central Middle School.
She thanked the school district, which agreed to allow classmates to change in another locker room if they or their parents were uncomfortable, for helping with her daughter’s transition.
But Surridge asked other parents to be more accepting.
“You don’t understand it because you haven’t lived it,” said Surridge. “Transgender is not a choice. I don’t care what anyone says in this room, it is not a choice. No one in the world would choose to live this kind of life. There is a way to work this out together, and I am ready to do it with anyone who wants to help.”
Surridge said her daughter was upset by the controversy, but she explained that this was part of the growing process.
“She just needs to be patient and let her friends figure things out on their own,” Surridge said. "People need to realize that there are different people in this world and you need to be accepting of everyone.”
Surridge said she was confident her daughter would be just fine, regardless of what her peers and their parents think of her.
“She is a very strong-willed and strong-minded child, and she doesn’t really care what anyone else thinks,” Surridge said. “She is just going to be who she is.”
Watch this video report posted online by WROC-TV: