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Saturday, February 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington

School responds to transgender teen bullying allegations

By Katie Gillespie The Columbian

A transgender teenager’s story of bullying is going viral this week after her aunt posted on Facebook about alleged ongoing issues at McLoughlin Middle School.

According to a Facebook post by the girl’s aunt, Leslie Goodnight, 13-year-old Lindsey Smith has been the victim of ongoing bullying and harassment by students throughout the year. On Wednesday, she said a boy punched Lindsey in the face several times.

A Vancouver Public Schools spokeswoman said the district is aware of the incident and is responding. School staff are meeting Thursday to discuss the school’s response, and a letter will be sent home to all parents at the school about what happened.

Photos attached to Goodnight’s Facebook post show a bruise forming on Lindsey’s cheek.

“She has been harassed relentlessly almost daily since the beginning of last school year and nothing is getting better,” Goodnight told The Columbian.

As of Thursday morning, the post had been shared more than 5,700 times.

Lindsey, a seventh-grader, began her transition from male to female in fifth grade, Goodnight said. Washington law requires that schools protect transgender students from discrimination, including using preferred names and pronouns, participation in sports, protection from harassment and allowing students’ use of preferred restrooms and locker rooms.

Goodnight criticized the school’s response, saying school officials “did not call the police nor did they suspend the male student because ‘the cameras couldn’t clearly see what happened.’”

Amanda Richter, a spokeswoman for the district, said the school did take “immediate appropriate disciplinary action against the aggressor,” but could not specify what that amounted to due to student privacy laws.

Goodnight said she plans to work with the girl’s mother, her sister, to apply for a boundary exemption that would allow her to go to a different middle school.

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