Group pushes for more options for transgender students on overnight trips

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Group pushes for more options for transgender students on overnight trips

By MaryClare Colombo, Plano Senior HS, Plano, Texas

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The Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) organization recently addressed the issue of transgender rooming on school overnight trips in a letter to Principal Sarah Watkins in October. Last year, transgender student senior Sydney Dela Rosa had to room alone or room with her biological sex with no other options. Before she sent the letter to Watkins, she would have had to pay $300 for her own room.

“The ideal solution would be to treat me as if I were designated female at birth,” Dela Rosa said. “Of course I can understand why that might be a problem in terms of rights to privacy. It’s a fickle case. You either violate others’ rights to privacy or my rights to privacy. There’s no avoiding that.”

It’s a fickle case. You either violate others’ rights to privacy or my rights to privacy. There’s no avoiding that.”

— Sydney Dela Rosa

The letter was later resolved, granting Dela Rosa and other transgender students two options. They can room alone while the school pays for the hotel, or they can find a group of people who identify with the same gender. The other students’ parents would be notified that a transgender student was rooming with their student.

“It’s acceptable, not ideal, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Dela Rosa said. “It’s a compromise where before I didn’t have anything. This is the best solution I can get at the moment. For that, I’m thankful. I would rather have this solution than no solution.”

A student in GSA, who wishes to remain anonymous, helped to write the letter. PISD’s Central Offices made the final decision.

“I think it’s completely fair of her to ask for this,” the student said. “It’s important for trans people to feel safe at school, where we spend a lot of time, when a lot of other places aren’t. We need to change the way we view transgender people and this could help bring exposure to the fact that trans people are real and we go to this school and we want to be recognized and respected.”

This letter was the first step towards transgender rights at Plano, but it is not the first school to have solutions such as these.

“Other districts have implemented this on a case-by-case system,” Dela Rosa said. “It doesn’t strictly isolate the student. It’s not ideal. My want is more than this but I can understand why they can’t meet my want. I hope that this issue continues to have more solutions as we become more progressive. You have to be active in some way. Otherwise, your wants won’t be heard.”

Although this letter addressed transgender student rooming, the letter did not find a solution for gender nonconforming students such as the student who helped to write the letter.

“I don’t strictly associate myself with either binary gender, boy or girl,” the student said. “Although I wouldn’t personally mind rooming with people of my biological sex, I think that people facing this situation should be able to choose whichever option makes them the most comfortable. We have to weigh what’s more important — a few people, who never have to worry about being harassed and even assaulted for their gender identity, being uncomfortable, or a transgender student who once again has to deal with being shut off from the benefits of equal treatment in a world that condemns you if you chose to express yourself differently than what you were born with, which can cause serious mental trauma.”

We need to make a change. This letter is a stepping stone to change, even if it is just one case.”

— Anonymous student

Dela Rosa hopes to make a change for transgender students, starting at Plano. Her letter to Watkins was her way of making a difference.

“I was addressing possible solutions to this issue,” Dela Rosa said. “I was addressing the fact that it is discrimination whether that’s intentional or not because it’s a new concept to the school. We just haven’t had that come up much, especially in Texas. It’s such a contemporary issue. What can I expect? Is my word good enough for these people? Am I really going to make some change? And I did, and that’s amazing.”

The student in GSA also hopes to make a safe, healthy environment for transgender people.

“We need to make a change,” the student said. “This letter is a stepping stone to change, even if it is just one case.”

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