Transgender Pine-Richland Student: ‘I Really Don’t Feel Safe’

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Juliet Evancho‘s world turned upside down Monday night after a vote in the Pine-Richland School District.

“The School Board decided that they weren’t going to let the students go into the bathroom that they identify with,” she explained.

That means that 18-year-old transgender Evancho, sister of singer Jackie Evancho and one of three openly transgender students at the school, has two choices.

“Use the unisex bathroom or use the bathroom that is aligned with her birth certificate. Can you imagine her going into the men’s room and using the restroom?” her mother, Lisa Evancho, asked.

Monday’s vote by the School Board changed a prior policy that allowed transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. It also goes against the federal policy backed by the White House. Thursday morning, when Evancho went to school today for the first time since the policy changed, she said students’ attitudes toward her changed too.

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Juliet: This morning before even home room, there was a group of guys and they decided it would be funny to start to pretend to cough and–
Lisa: Call her a queer.
Juliet: Yeah. Call me queer.

Evancho went to the principal’s office, then to the guidance office where they sat down and talked. She decided she no longer felt safe around her fellow students at school — and went home.

“It makes me angry,” her mother said. “It makes me wonder what kind of Neanderthals raise kids that think it’s appropriate — going in there picking on a particular segment of the population and making it all about them.”

Rick: Let me play devil’s advocate for a second. What’s wrong with a unisex bathroom? Why can’t you just, they are giving you an opportunity — the board is saying — you have a place that you can go that is private, that it’s on your own. What’s wrong with that? Why is that a problem?

Juliet: Because it marginalizes us. It makes us feel even more separated.

Pine-Richland School District issued this statement to KDKA Thursday afternoon:

“While the district does not comment on specific student matters, the district strives to ensure a safe and positive learning environment for all students. When a complaint of bullying or harassment is made, an investigation is conducted at the building level. As outlined in the district’s discipline code, evidence of bullying, threats and/or harassment are not tolerated and would result in disciplinary consequences.”

For the Evancho family, that may not be enough.

Lisa: The School Board has empowered them.
Juliet: This is all completely new. None of this was an issue for years — even before I came out there was another trans student in the school. There was not an issue.

And for Juliet, she just wants to get back to her senior year of high school.

“I have so many other things to be thinking about. I shouldn’t be thinking about where I have to go to the bathroom,” she said.

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