Honesdale student files complaint over locker room encounter
HONESDALE, PA — A student at Honesdale High School filed a complaint with the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights March 14, saying she felt violated by seeing a student of the opposite sex changing with her in the women’s locker room.
According to the student, who appears unnamed in a video released by her attorney, Andrea Shaw, the encounter happened at the start of the school year when she was changing for gym class. The 15-year-old claims school officials told her to wait outside the locker room until the other student, who presumably identifies with a gender not related to their sex, was finished changing. The 12-page complaint alleges that the school has not issued a formal policy about the use of bathrooms or locker rooms and how it pertains to a person's gender identity.
According to the complaint, the student's parents called Honesdale High School the day after their daughter told them what had happened. The parents claim in the complaint that Wayne Highlands School District Superintendent Gregory Frigoletto and the school principal, Chris Pietrazewski, told them the male student could use the locker room, but asked them to change behind a shower curtain, and also allowed the student now filing the complaint to wait outside the locker room. Superintendent Frigoletto has not been available for comment on the issue of trans students and bathrooms at Honesdale, or this complaint.
There is no language regarding this issue in the school's formal policy. The complaint refers to the school as having an "oral policy," based on a 2016 "Dear Colleague" letter from the Barack Obama Administration's Department of Education, which urged schools to allow students to use the bathroom that correlated to their gender identity.
The attorney filing the complaint on behalf of the student and her family works for the Christian-centric Law Office of Andrew H. Shaw in Carlisle, PA.
“Opening up restrooms and locker room facilities to members of the opposite sex is sexual harassment, and like many forms of sexual harassment, the girls in this school have little power over their situation,” Andrea Shaw said in a statement released with the video.
The student gives a rundown of what she said happened in a video created by Shaw, which includes the student's also unnamed parents. “When I knew that a man was looking at me, I felt very violated and very scared,” the student said.
This is not Shaw’s first foray into this issue at Wayne Highlands. Shaw visited the school board in February of this year on behalf of a group of parents who want the school to institute a policy that requires students use the bathroom that pertains to their sexual identity. Shaw said that the creation of a gender-neutral bathroom and locker room space—provided that her client would not have to be the one to use it—would be acceptable, but said that has not been offered by the district. Shaw has also pursued this issue in other school districts.
This story has been updated as more information has become available.