A transgender Nova Scotia student says she recently faced suspension for using the women’s washroom at her rural high school.
Jessica Durling, who was born a male, told CTV Atlantic that the principal at Hants East Rural High in the small community of Milford Station told her she would be suspended for a day for using the girls’ washroom.
Her mother, Judy Dwyer, was also told that Jessica would be suspended indefinitely if she continued to use that washroom.
Jessica Durling, who was born a male, says her principal told her she would be suspended for a day for using the girls’ washroom at her Milford Station, N.S. high school.
Transgender teen Jessica Durling speaks with her mother Judy Dwyer in front of her high school in Milford Station, N.S.
Judy Dwyer, Jessica’s mother, was told her daughter was suspended indefinitely if she continued to use the women’s washroom.
“I was shocked, hurt,” Durling said. “I thought about not just me but everyone else who will get hurt by this…I just want to live a normal life.”
But before Durling could serve out the school’s punishment, the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board announced that her suspension would be dropped.
The school board also said it will develop new guidelines for schools to address the needs of all students.
Jessica’s mother said it was painful to see her daughter targeted.
“It is wrong for them to discriminate against my child and we need education,” Dwyer said.
Friend Skye Parker said students have been complaining about Jessica using the washroom alongside other girls.
“A lot of students complained,” she said. “I hear in class all the time…They’re like: ‘I feel so disgusted that she’s in the bathroom.’”
But transgender rights advocates say such attitudes are not isolated.
“We are in this place where we have this population saying: ‘OK, I want to be in my school, I want to be a part of my school. I want to contribute to my community. How can I do that in a really meaningful way?” said Sheena Jamieson of the Youth Project.
“And this other group is saying: ‘We don’t know, and we have never really prepared for it.’ So I think we’re at this point where we need to start talking to each other. We need to start preparing