A transgender teen created a stir in his Virginia town by asking to use the boys’ restroom at school.
Gavin Grimm, who was born a girl but identifies as a boy, sued school officials in Glouchester after they required him to use either the girls’ restroom or a single-stall unisex bathroom available to all students.
“I’m not comfortable with it whatsoever,” Grimm said. “I’m not an ‘other’ and I’m not unisex — I’m a boy.”
The Associated Press asked a few Walmart shoppers in the conservative town which bathroom they thought the teenager ought to use.
“If they’re not fixed like a man, they should not use the men’s bathroom,” said Gary Pilkinton, a 56-year-old movie special effects worker.
However, not all of the shoppers had strong feelings on the subject.
“I don’t care what bathroom he uses,” said Cheryl Walker, a 71-year-old retiree. “Just don’t go potty on the hallway floor.”
Grimm, who told his parents he was transgender last year but has refused to wear girls’ clothes since age 6, said he’s not surprised by the controversy.
“There’s the side that’s like, ‘Wow, Gloucester is really in the Stone Age with this one — just let you pee and be yourself and be happy,'” Grimm said. “And there’s a lot of people from Gloucester who are like, ‘It’s the Bible Belt and Satan is in our town.'”
Some boys told the AP they didn’t mind sharing a restroom with Grimm, saying adults seemed more concerned than they are, but at least one boy said he had feared speaking out about his discomfort.
“My friends and I are uncomfortable with co-ed bathrooms and locker rooms,” said student Scott Williams. “Don’t we matter too? How is it fair to advance the rights of one by violating the rights of a thousand? The unisex restroom isn’t perfect, but it’s the best option.”
The teen was allowed to use the boys’ restrooms last year at school — and did so without incident — until some parents complained.
The school board voted 6-1 to institute a policy restricting students with “transgender issues” to the unisex facilities or to those corresponding to their biological gender, but Grimm and the American Civil Liberties Union sued after he found the situation unbearable.
“It’s humiliating, it’s ostracizing and I don’t want to take that walk of shame to the unisex bathroom and know that everyone who saw me go in there knows why I’m in there — because I’m different, and I’ve been marked different by my school and publicly,” he said.