A transgender student from Canada has allegedly been barred from using the men's restroom at school.
James Spencer, 16, says that he has been told by his school's administration to use the facilities at the fast food restaurant down the street, according to the Torstar News Service. However, officials at Durham Region's Clarke High School insist they never told the teen to use an off-campus restroom.
More recently, Spencer says he was given permission to use a private bathroom under lock and key reserved for "janitor staff, kitchen staff and students with medical disabilities."
"I felt like they were saying that to be transgender there's something wrong and that transgender people need to be segregated," Spencer told Toronto's Global News.
According to the Torstar News Service, Spencer, who began transitioning from female to male in the 10th grade, was bullied at his old high school. Unable to cope with the strain, he moved in with his sister and enrolled at Clarke High School. But right off the bat, Spencer says, the school administration made it difficult for him to make a smooth transition.
However, the teenager says that there is a silver lining: His schoolmates have been supportive, and that, he says, has been extremely encouraging. Some students, for example, have taken to Twitter to express their support for Spencer.
Clarke is so stupid, they tell us to not bully and stuff and except people. Yet there not accepting transgender people like james
— Darian:) (@Darian__Todd) November 8, 2012
Martin Twiss, superintendent of education at the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board (which oversees Clarke High School), told TNS that while the board may want to "accommodate students as best [they] can," they also have to be "conscious that not everyone might feel comfortable with that at this point."
On Wednesday, Twiss also told The Huffington Post that he met with Spencer and his sister earlier this week. The meeting, he said, had been a "positive" one. He added that the board is looking into creating a "positive and more inclusive environment" for Spencer in the weeks to come.
This week, for instance, Twiss said that the school will be looking into removing the lock on the private bathroom to make it "more accessible" for Spencer and other students.
Elsewhere in Canada, the Toronto District School Board issued new guidelines earlier this year "spelling out the ways students who don’t conform with traditional gender identities should be treated in the classroom," the Globe and Mail reported in October.
Transgender students in Toronto schools must now "be accommodated according to their own stated gender preference and do not need to produce official documentation to justify their identity choice." This also means that students are allowed to dictate which restroom they wish to use at school.
"Regardless of somebody’s situation, we want them to feel safe and welcome in our schools,” board spokesman Ryan Bird told the Globe and Mail of the new guidelines.
A Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board representative told HuffPost that the Toronto board's guidelines are not applicable in their district.
However, Twiss told HuffPost that the board is hoping to work together with the Toronto District School Board and others to "find a solution for James and other students."
This is not the first time in recent months that a story like Spencer's has made headlines. In September, a transgender customer at a number of Washington bars said she was being denied access to restrooms there.
“What they’re doing, by me not being able to use the ladies room, is discriminating against me,” Norma Bellhorn told KREM.com at the time.