MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A national legal organization has sent a letter to the Horry County School District advising them to reverse their decision to suspend a transgender male student after he used the boy's bathroom at Socastee High School, or run the risk of facing potential legal action.
Lambda Legal also requests the school system adopt inclusive bathroom policies that respect the gender identities of its students and are in line with federal law, according to a press release.
"Instead of suspending a student using the bathroom between classes, Horry County School District should protect the privacy concerns and respect the gender identity of each student and adopt inclusive, nondiscriminatory policies," said Beth Littrell, senior attorney at Lambda Legal. "Failure to do so could cut off federal funds and land it in court."
An excerpt from the letter reads:
The refusal to respect students' gender identities embarrasses and demeans those students. It prevents them from having equal opportunities to learn and participate at school. Marginalizing transgender students by requiring them to use bathrooms that are not accessible to their classrooms or that unnecessarily single them out for unequal treatment and safety concerns is unacceptable. Finally, please be advised that school discipline for "insubordination" or "disruption" for exercising a legal right is equally unlawful: "School officials may not punish indirectly, through the guise of insubordination, what they may not punish directly."
The letter comes on the heels of the incident that happened earlier this year at Socastee High School. The student was suspended for a day after using the boy's bathroom following school administrators telling him to either use the girl's bathroom or go to the nurse's office.
Horry County Schools Spokesperson Teal Britton said she is checking to see if the school has received the letter. It was addressed Feb. 17, 2016.
The student's mother said Wednesday she has not seen the letter, but is excited to be making some progress.
"The students at the school have been motivated to start putting up flyers at the school to raise awareness around the issue," the mother said. "I couldn't be happier about the pressure that is being put on the administration to comply with the law."
According to its website, Lambda Legal was founded in 1973 and is the oldest and largest national legal organization whose mission is to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
For more information on the student's suspension, view our story below:
View the letter sent by Lambda Legal to Horry County Schools below: