‘It’s an invasion of privacy”: High School Students Walk Out of Class in Protest of Transgender Bathroom and Locker Room Policy

By: Georgia | Last updated: Nov 20, 2023

A significant number of Woodgrove High School students recently expressed their dissent by walking out of their classes. 

This demonstration in Loudoun County, Virginia, was a response to a contentious policy regarding transgender and non-binary students’ access to school bathrooms and locker rooms, reflecting a community grappling with issues of gender identity and privacy.

Students Protest School's Transgender Policy

In a move that illustrates the current divide in school policies on gender, between 50 to 100 students at Woodgrove High School protested against the implemented Policy 8040. 

A dark background with two neon signs; the left sign glows in blue with the word 'BOYS'and the right sign illuminates in pink with the word 'GIRLS'

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This policy, enacted by the Loudoun County School Board, allows transgender students to use the facilities of their chosen gender, which has caused a stir among the student body.

Policy That Sparked Student Walkout

The policy in question, Policy 8040, was put into place in 2021, and it grants students the freedom to use school facilities that align with their gender identity. 

A well-lit public restroom featuring a long countertop with multiple integrated sinks, automatic faucets, and soap dispensers

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This has led to a direct action by a section of the student population, who are demanding a return to gender-specific facilities.

Students Express Privacy Concerns

Some students have voiced that the current policy infringes on their privacy.

Rear view of diverse male students seated in a conference room, focusing on a presentation ahead

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A male student highlighted discomfort with the possibility of students of different biological sexes sharing the same locker rooms, particularly during times when they are most vulnerable, such as showering and changing.

Policy Deemed a Safety Risk by Some

A female student has reported avoiding the school bathrooms entirely, due to concerns over what she perceives as a “massive safety risk.”

A sticker on a dark background featuring a hybrid gender symbol combining the male, female, and transgender symbols, with the word 'INCLUSIVE' written below it, indicating a restroom that is accessible to people of all gender identities

Source: Getty Images

The sentiment reflects a portion of the student body’s unease with the current arrangement, as they navigate their daily routines.

Unsettling Changes for Students

The new policy has impacted the daily experiences of the students, with reports of female students choosing to change in bathroom stalls and others avoiding using the bathrooms altogether. 

A person with shoulder-length hair is intently reading a book

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This discomfort has led to students adjusting their behavior to avoid situations they feel uneasy about.


Male Students Share Their Discomfort

Following sports practices, male students have also shared their discomfort with changing in the presence of students of different genders. 

An interior view of a modern locker room with light wooden lockers lining the walls

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The concern is a reflection of the broader discomfort felt by students on both sides of the debate, highlighting the complexities of implementing such policies.


Concerns About Changing in Mixed Company

The debate intensifies with questions about the comfort level of sharing changing spaces with the opposite sex. 

A row of shower heads mounted on a tiled wall with small green specks

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A male student’s rhetorical question illustrates the ongoing tension and the need for a dialogue on the matter.


Support for Transgender Policy Visible

Amid the protests, another group of students and supporters displayed pride flags, symbolizing their support for the inclusive bathroom policy. 

A close-up image of the Transgender Pride Flag, characterized by its horizontal stripes in light blue, pink, and white

Source: Lena Balk/Unsplash

This counter-demonstration represents a different viewpoint, advocating for the rights of transgender students within the school.


Community Members Rally in Support

Supporters of Policy 8040 have made it clear that their stance is rooted in advocacy for all students. 

Two hands holding up cardboard signs with messages of support for transgender individuals

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These individuals argue for the importance of inclusion and support for students across the gender spectrum, standing in solidarity with those affected by the policy.


Differing Opinions Within the School

While the walkout was significant, there is an acknowledgment of those who chose not to participate. 

Three young adults are engaged in a casual conversation while sitting on the steps outside a building

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Some students have expressed a reluctance to speak out, either in support of or against the policy, suggesting a varied spectrum of opinions and comfort levels within the student body.


Loudoun County Schools Reviewing Policies

The school administration has issued a response, stating that the Loudoun County School Board is currently reviewing Policy 8040 along with new Model Policies from the Virginia Department of Education. 

Gender-inclusive bathroom sign on a teal door featuring a pictogram of a half “male” and half “female” person and the word 'Whichever' underneath

Source: Getty Images

The review process is being undertaken by the Student Services Committee, indicating the administration’s awareness and consideration of the issues raised by the students.