Transgender student fights for restroom access at Tonawanda High School

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A 17-year-old who identifies as female is being told she’s no longer allowed to use the women’s restroom at school.

Junior year will be one to remember for Arianna Adamo. It is her first full year walking the halls of Tonawanda High School as a woman. She’s been transitioning for years now, but she says her fight is just beginning. The Tonawanda High School Junior says she’s never felt more like herself.

Adamo said, “It gives me a smile and makes me have courage everyday just to dress how I want, and do whatever I can to be myself.”

Now she wants the staff and classmates at her school to see that too.
She said, “I want to make this school understand, and have everyone in there understand and feel comfortable, and not worry.”

Now, she’s fighting for answers now that she’s not allowed to use the ladies restroom at her school. She said, “I identify as a woman, I’d like to use the women’s bathroom.”

She says she was allowed to use the girls bathroom last year. But at the beginning of this school year that changed. She says the superintendent told her the change happened out of a safety concern. Adamo said, “They’ve said they don’t want people pretending they are identifying as a girl going into the wrong bathrooms.”

Right now, there is no bathroom policy for the district. Superintendent Dr. James Newton,  says the school is working on one to address guidelines for transgender students. But it’s been months, and still nothing. Adamo said, “Ever since the start of the school year until now, they’ve been saying they’re going to get a policy and still nothing has been planned.”

Right now, they’re following the State Education Department’s guidance document which in part says, “alternative accommodations, such as a single “unisex” bathroom or private changing space, should be made available to students who request them, but should never be forced upon students, nor presented as the only option.”

This means for now, Adamo can use the gender neutral or the health office bathroom. But Adamo says she’ll continue to fight for what she says is discrimination based on gender. She said, “Arianna is a girl who fights for her battles. She tries to make everyone happy. She strives for the best and she wont stop until she gets to reach her goal.”

The bathroom debate is being brought up in high schools around the country. This follows President Trump’s decision to rescind protections for transgender students that allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity.
We spoke with Dr. Newton who says he’s hopeful the school board policy subcommittee will get the plan in place soon. He tells us he believes the staff treats Adamo well and they are very accepting of the transgender population.

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