- Associated Press - Thursday, December 18, 2014

LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - A transgender student in New Jersey who gave up his female identity says his school reversed course and will now allow him to use the boys’ restroom.

Rubin Smyers came out as a boy in 2013 and began using the men’s room at the Ocean County Vocational Technical School’s Performing Arts Academy until May, when he said school officials instructed him to use the unisex bathroom instead.

“That was just like an extra punch in the face,” Smyers told the Asbury Park Press (https://on.app.com/1z0rjbK ). “It was very, very isolating.”

The 16-year-old from Lacey Township took to social media to protest and received support from Garden State Equality, which represents the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The advocacy group wrote a letter to the school saying Smyers’ rights were being violated.

The school’s communications director did not immediately return a call or email from the newspaper seeking comment.

Garden State Equality says New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination allows transgender people to use the sex-specific bathroom with which they identify.

“What Rubin did was he got the school to follow the law,” executive director Andrea Bowen said. “He applied pressure really smartly, he wasn’t threatening about it, he scheduled meetings and got public support on his side. We are really celebrating his achievement.”

Smyers said he was happy about the outcome. “But in a way, I almost wasn’t as thrilled or excited as I expected to be,” he said. “They were giving me permission for something I already had the right to do.”

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Information from: Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, https://www.app.com


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