Two Colorado teens say they feel they are being punished by their high school for identifying as transgender.
As Colorado's 9 News is reporting, Dionne Malikowski, 16, claims she was told she would be suspended for three days from Fort Collins High School when she was caught using the women's restroom. "I cried," said Malikowski, who was born male but now identifies as transgender. At present, she is required to use the staff bathrooms instead of the students' bathrooms. "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.'"
Malinowski's friend Kurt Peters, also 16, says he also reprimanded for using the men's bathroom, but only received a warning as it was a first time offense. "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."
Fort Collins High School officials did not comment on the incident(s) due to student confidentiality agreements, but Malinowski says she continues to feel uncomfortable. "I feel like the school doesn't really understand what it's like to be in our situation," Malikowski added.
Restroom use remains a controversial issue for those in the transgender community. The award-winning organization Safe2Pee.com maintains an ongoing database of gender neutral restrooms. In addition, student bodies at some universities such as Cornell have greatly pushed to include more restrooms open to both sexes. "Something so seemingly simple as a bathroom could make someone feel uncomfortable,” transgender student told The Cornell Daily Sun.
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