Transgender high school student wins the right to use the boys' bathroom

Video: 16-year-old Rubin Smyers received support from the Garden State Equality Advocacy Group

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The Independent US

A transgender student in New Jersey says his school will now let him use the boys' bathroom having been previously told he could only use the unisex one.

16-year-old Rubin Smyers returned to school in 2013 as a boy and began to use the men's room at his school, the Ocean County Vocational Technical School's Performing Arts Academy. However, come May, the school told him to start using the unisex bathroom instead.

Smyers told the Asbury Park Press that using the unisex bathroom secluded him from his classmates: "That was just like an extra punch in the face. It was very, very isolating."

Smyers agreed to the new rule but come October, he started a petition and called on school administrators to allow him to use the boys' bathroom once more. It received the support of around 2,000 people.

The Garden State Equality Advocacy Group contacted administrators at the school and helped to get the decision reversed.

Andrea Bowen, the executive director of the New Jersey LGBT group, told the Associated Press, "New Jersey law says very clearly, transgender kids have a right to use facilities that match their gender identity."

Bowen said that Smyers case was one of many in the state of New Jersey and across the United States: schools are often not receptive to a student's gender transition.

"It's hard for the people to understand that you have to let transgender kids use the bathroom that they identify with," Bowen said.

Commenting on his small victory, Smyers said, "I'm definitely happy about it. But in a way, I almost wasn't as thrilled or excited as I expected to be. They were giving me permission for something I already had the right to do."

Smyers told The Associated Press that he was "kinda chicken" when he told his parents that he was transgender, preferring to reveal the fact in a letter that he left on the table.

His mother, Jolene Smyers, said, "The best part of the letter was the closing that said, 'Thank you in advance for not being crappy judgmental parents which never crossed my mind.'"