FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Two high school students in Fort Collins, Colo. — who identify as transgender — say that attitudes displayed by the school’s administrators make them feel unwelcome on campus, including being prohibited from using the same restrooms as other students.
Dionne Malikowski and Kurt Peters, both 16, have been instructed by officials at Fort Collins High School to use staff restrooms or face disciplinary measures.
Malikowski, who was born male, and Peters, who was born female, told KUSA-TV in Denver that that faculty and staff at Fort Collins High has not been receptive to their needs as transgender individuals.
“To be one sex that feels like they’re the other sex,” Malikowski said defining what a transgender person feels.
Inside Fort Collins High School, the two say they are asked to use staff restrooms.
“There’s not staff bathrooms all over the school, so when you really got to pee, you got to pee,” Malikowski said.
That’s what she says happened about a month ago when she used the women’s restroom. She was told she’d be suspended for three days.
“I cried,” Malikowski said. “I told them that it was really messed up for them to do that to me, and they were like, ‘We’ve warned you before,’ and I was just like, ‘Obviously you don’t understand what it’s like.’”
The school won’t comment because of student confidentiality, but on the school’s website “defiance” is listed as one reason a student can get suspended.
“I feel like the school doesn’t really understand what it’s like to be in our situation,” Malikowski said.
Peters said that a similar incident occurred when he used the men’s room, although in that instance he only received a warning not a suspension.
“Since it was a first time offense, they let me go,” Peters said. “But I think it’s really stupid that Dionne got suspended and I didn’t. I should have got suspended if Dionne did.”
A spokesperson for the Poudre schools superintendent Dr. Jerry Wilson, told LGBTQ Nation there is not an across-the-board policy for bathroom use by transgender students.
According to KUSA-TV’s report, without input from school officials, it’s impossible to know exactly what happened in the hallways of Fort Collins High School, but the two students say they feel punished for who they are.
“It kind of makes us feel like we’re not welcome,” Malikowski said.
Brad Stauffer, Director of Communications for the Colorado Association of School Boards, told LGBTQ Nation on Thursday that the problem confronting school administrators statewide is the absence of case law covering these legal scenarios in Colorado, and that the association hasn’t provided any guidance to school districts.