CORRECTING THE RECORD ON THE BATHROOM GROIN-KICK INCIDENT
In a letter to parents and interested community members, the superintendent of the North Pole School District has set the record straight about the bathroom incident that left one male student with a groin injury. The incident occurred after a group of male students entered a girls’ bathroom at North Pole High School, surprising the girl who was in the bathroom. She took protective measures by kicking the first boy to enter the bathroom in the groin.
According to Superintendent Dr. Karen Gaborik, there had been a lot of discussion on campus about another student, who is in the process of presenting herself as a male in the process that is known as “transitioning.”
“The series of events at North Pole High School began when a student transitioning from female to male took a selfie in the boys’ restroom on Monday, April 1, and posted on Snapchat,” Gaborik wrote.
“Some male students at the school were upset about the public nature of the post and restroom use. There was, and continues to be, conversation among students regarding transgender students at NPHS and the use of restrooms. Teachers, counselors, support staff and administrators are helping students navigate that dialogue. The district provides additional counselors to schools whenever it is determined assistance is needed.”
It’s within the context of that school controversy that some boys decided to enter a girls’ bathroom and take a Snapchat photo of their own, as a form of protest.
“On April 4, a group of male students began to enter the restroom. Only one male student actually proceeded past the door frame. The other male students followed behind him and were not yet in the restroom. A female student (not the transgender student) was exiting the restroom at the time the first male student began to enter. The female student kicked the first male student in the groin. The male students turned around and left the area,” Gaborik wrote.
An investigation ensued. Statements were collected. And in the end, all of the students involved were disciplined, Gaborik wrote.
“The male students were disciplined for attempting to enter the restroom. There was not evidence that the male students were threatening any student or using any type of force toward other students,” she wrote.
Media and social media reports said that only the girl was disciplined, however Gaborik disputes that, and further says that no students were prevented from attending the April 6 prom because the investigation was still ongoing, and the disciplinary action wasn’t announced until April 8.
“The district does not encourage students or staff to use force against students, staff or visitors to school facilities. In general, we recommend students talk to school staff about any situations in which they feel unsafe. Students are encouraged to bring concerns about their safety to school staff. If a student is facing an imminent threat, the student’s response to the threat will be evaluated based on the facts and circumstances of the incident, district policies, and state law,” she wrote.
As for the transgender student, the superintendent says that there is a gender neutral bathroom on campus but the school is working with students individually as they decide which bathroom fits them best. Students are not in charge of the decision about what bathroom other students may use, the superintendent said.
“Ensuring a safe environment is a core value in our school district. This includes the social-emotional safety of our students, as well as the physical safety. We do not advocate physical or psychological violence as a means to attain safety. The entire school community needs to work together to ensure that all students feel welcomed, safe and are able to learn and thrive. We recognize that parents, students and members of our community feel strongly about these issues, but advocating for the use of violence does not contribute to a safe learning environment. If a student uses force against another student or against staff, that use of force is evaluated for potential discipline under the self-defense laws of the State and the facts and circumstances of the incident, she wrote.
“It is critical that the district maintain confidentiality regarding student discipline. While I will not discuss the discipline related to this incident, I can tell you that students have due process rights and can appeal school-level decisions. We are working through those procedures right now.”
Rep. Tammie Wilson has taken up the side of the girl. “I said, ‘Good for her. I would have taught my daughter to do the same.”
The legislator who represents the district said during a press conference last week, that she wanted girls to know she has their back:
“If you ever feel threatened for your safety, whatever force you think you have to give, I will stand behind you,” she said.