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Transgender student says she was suspended for using ladies' restroom

6:16 PM, Nov 9, 2011   |    comments
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Sixteen-year-old Dionne Malikowski was born male, but she now identifies as transgender. Her friend Kurt Peters, also 16, was born female and says he is transgender as well.

"To be one sex that feels like they're the other sex," Malikowski said defining what a transgender person feels.

Inside Fort Collins High School, the two say they are asked to use staff restrooms.

"There's not staff bathrooms all over the school, so when you really got to pee, you got to pee," Malikowski said.

That's what she says happened about a month ago when she used the women's restroom.

She was told she'd be suspended for three days.

"I cried," Malikowski said. "I told them that it was really messed up for them to do that to me, and they were like, 'We've warned you before,' and I was just like, 'Obviously you don't understand what it's like.'"

The school won't comment because of student confidentiality, but on the school's website "defiance" is listed as one reason a student can get suspended.

"I feel like the school doesn't really understand what it's like to be in our situation," Malikowski said.

It is a situation that Peters says happened to him when he used the men's restroom, but he only got a warning.

"Since it was a first time offense, they let me go. But I think it's really stupid that Dionne got suspended and I didn't. I should have got suspended if Dionne did," Peters said.

Without the school's comment, it's impossible to know exactly what happened in the hallways of Fort Collins High School, but the two students say they feel punished for who they are.

"It kind of makes us feel like we're not welcome," Malikowski said.

The Poudre School District says there is not an across-the-board policy for bathroom use by transgender students.

The Colorado Association of School Boards says there really is no case law on this in Colorado and the association hasn't provided any guidance to school districts.

They say this issue is an emerging legal one and schools are still working their way through it.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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