FAIRBANKS, AK (KTVF/Gray News) - The family of a high school student in Alaska plans to appeal disciplinary action taken against her by the school district after the girl allegedly hit a male student in the groin, who was attempting to enter the girls bathroom, according to The Washington Post.
The incident first made headlines after a Friday news conference with state Rep. Tammie Wilson, a Republican from North Pole, KTVF reports.
Wilson said a group of boys at North Pole High School blocked a female student from leaving the girls bathroom and, feeling threatened, she kneed one of them in the groin.
Wilson defended the girl’s actions. The girl’s family told Washington Post she was expelled after the incident.
“I said, ‘Good for her,’” said Wilson to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. “I would have taught my daughter to do the same.”
She went on to add, “Was she supposed to not protect herself? She was where she belonged. They were not.”
The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, of which North Pole High is part, issued a statement Monday following the controversy surrounding the girl’s reported punishment.
The school district said the incident took place April 4, a few days after a transgender male student posted a selfie from the boys restroom on Snapchat. That student was not directly involved in the later incident.
As a “form of protest,” a group of boys decided to go into the girls restroom to take a picture of their own. Only one boy in the group passed the door frame before a female student, who was exiting the restroom at the time, kicked him in the groin, according to the school district. The boys all left the area.
The boy who was kicked received medical attention for the injury, according to the News-Miner.
A Title IX investigation was conducted, and while the school district maintained “all student disciplinary actions are confidential,” it confirmed in its statement that the female student who allegedly kicked the boy was disciplined. Seven boys also received discipline for their attempt to enter the restroom.
“We recognize that parents, students and members of our community feel strongly about these issues, but advocating for the use of violence does not contribute to a safe learning environment,” read the statement in part.
The school district says none of the boys threatened any student or used any type of force.
"If you ever feel threatened for your safety, whatever force you think you have to give, I will stand behind you,” said Wilson at her news conference.
Superintendent Dr. Karen Gabroik said students are allowed to appeal school-level decisions regarding discipline. She added North Pole High staff is helping students navigate conversation about transgender students and the use of restrooms.
The needs of each transgender student in the district are addressed individually, Gabroik says. Some students use provided “gender neutral,” single-person restrooms, some continue to use the restroom of their birth gender and some use restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.