The student news site of Potomac Falls High School

The Roar

The student news site of Potomac Falls High School

The Roar

The student news site of Potomac Falls High School

The Roar

Trans Tolerance Throwdown


Woodgrove High School students on the LGBTQ+ bathroom policy.

The opinions of students in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the author or of The Roar.

In August of 2021, Loudoun County Public School adopted policy 8040, which allows students identifying as transgender to use the locker rooms and bathrooms of their choice as well as requiring teachers to use a students’ preferred pronouns. This policy was intended to increase the comfort of transgender students and to affirm their identities.

After Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin was elected later that year, however, he promised to turn such policies around, citing that some students may feel uncomfortable changing or using the restroom with people of the opposite sex, especially cisgender women who fear that cisgender men identifying as transgender women may exploit such a policy to cause harm.

After such an incident did occur in LCPS, the controversy increased in relevance. Those against policy 8040 state that the instance was just one of more to come and that the policy put students in danger. Others claim that abolishing the policy punishes all transgender students for the actions of one cisgender assailant. This would add just more discrimination and generalization to an already marginalized and misunderstood group.

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The debate reached Woodgrove High School on Nov 1, when anti-8040 protestors walked out and clashed with pro-8040 counter-protestors. Some of the anti-8040 protesters were willing to give The Roar their side of the story, beginning with their motivations. “I was uncomfortable with having other genders in the same bathroom [and locker room as me],” said freshman Baylor Nester. 

“[I was motivated by] the level of fear that I see from other women in the building,” said junior Katie Young. “I’ve spoken to multiple of my peers who agree, we only use the bathroom if we absolutely need to and only at crowded times to avoid any chance of something happening.” 

Young’s concerns are not only safety-oriented, however. They continue onto another major issue in regards to transgender individuals: the issue of trans athletes. Some are concerned that trans athletes may have advantages over cis athletes because of their biological differences. “Policy 8040 allows athletes to participate with others of their gender identity, meaning I could be competing against biological males,” said Young. “Considering I run track, which is very numbers based, it’s incredibly easy to see the difference between the male and female body, and no girl would have a chance against a biological male.”

The walk-out was attended by dozens of students. “The walk out went great. We had the news show up so we were able to get our point across.” said Nester.

 Nevertheless, there was an impression that the protest was being stifled by those who disagreed with the students’ opinion. “I would argue that our walkout was treated pretty differently than nearly every other Woodgrove walkout, at least in my time at the school,” said Young. “We were told that there would be an announcement telling students they were allowed to leave the building, after they had insisted we do the walkout at a certain time and place. That announcement was never issued.”

The walkout was trampled from the top, but the alleged suppression didn’t end there. “I’ve heard that some teachers refused to let students leave advisory, which contrasts earlier LGBTQ+ protests in which students were ENCOURAGED to participate,” said Young.

“I had heard from other students that an English teacher wasn’t letting kids go,” said Nester.

Kysha Castillo, a senior at Potomac Falls and member of the school GSA, shared her thoughts on the nearby protest. “It’s honestly a little bit saddening that those who are transgender are still being oppressed in today’s society. Some of my friends are transgender, and I think that this is just targeting those who want to freely express themselves and want the right to use the bathrooms and changing rooms that correlates with how they identify,” said Castillo, “I think this is a bit scary for those trans students that go to Woodgrove and other schools in the county.”

The protestors assert, however, that they mean no harm toward transgender students. “This protest was not a demonstration of hate. I do not hate you, I do not wish you harm, I believe you are still an incredibly valuable member of society and I wish you well. Our desire for sports and spaces that are single-gendered are not because we hate you, but because there is a genuine fear that bad people are going to take advantage of the opportunity to eliminate our opportunities and hurt people,” said Young.

Nester agrees. “You do you and do what makes you happy, but you don’t need to be in the same bathrooms as the gender you wanna be, it just makes it  more of an uncomfortable environment.”

Castillo acknowledges the concerns of the protestors, but refutes the claim that LGBTQ+ students are the threat, stating that in her experience, LGBTQ+ students are “kind-hearted and fairly stick to themselves…I highly doubt they would go out of their way to harm those when they just want to use the bathroom that correlates with their identity.” 

Nester disagrees, arguing that because this issue has only come to the front of public attention recently, pro-trans advocates simply do not have enough information to form an opinion. “I would say [pro-policy 8040 advocates] don’t know what it’s like because this has become an issue more recently–-in the last decade,” said Nester.

Despite these students’ opinions being on opposite sides of a very controversial issue, there is one thing they can agree on. “The beauty of America is that we can voice differing opinions, and I love talking to people on the other side of the aisle because I believe it’s important to talk about these issues, it reminds us that we’re all human,” said Young.

“We may have our own opinions on this issue, but at the end of the day we’re all humans who deserve rights, no matter how we identify,” said Castillo.