Transgender student arrested in restroom flap

By Justin Lee Campbell
Courtesy The Journal

PICKENS — A transgender student was arrested in August at the Pickens County Career and Technology Center and charged with third-degree assault and battery and disturbing schools, according to an incident report and tickets provided by the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office.

Kinsley Lynn Evans, 18, of Easley, was arrested Aug. 17 by a school resource officer after “shoving” the officer, the report said. The deputy also alleged Evans was “belligerent” and “continued to physically fight and curse loudly” while being restrained by an administrator.

The student was allowed to sign a $1,500 personal recognizance bond on both charges by a magistrate and released on Aug. 18, according to PCSO Chief Deputy Creed Hashe.

According to the report, the student, who identifies as male, questioned the officer in the cafeteria about the issue of which bathroom the student was allowed to use. According to the report, Evans screamed, “You told me last year that I could use any restroom that I wanted to use.”

Several male students had left a student male restroom in the technology center the previous day after Evans allegedly entered it, the report said. The students told administration, and Evans was instructed to use the male faculty/staff restroom.

“(Evans) … was accommodated last year by being allowed to utilize the male faculty/staff restroom on a particular hallway,” the officer said in the report.

The school’s resource officer denied saying the student could use a specific restroom. Evans allegedly called the officer a liar, after which the officer said she walked away “to de-escalate the situation, but (Evans) followed me and continued to scream profanities at me.”

The report alleges that the student threw a string bag at the officer without hitting her. After ignoring an administrator’s request to stop following the deputy to her office, the student “slammed into the door” as the deputy closed her office door.

“I did not retaliate even though (Evans) continued to push into the office,” the officer said, adding, “(an administrator) physically restrained (Evans) outside my office door” with the help of an instructor.

The administrator told the officer to arrest and handcuff the student, according to the report. The student was then taken to the administrator’s office before being taken to the Pickens County Detention Center.

School District of Pickens County spokesperson John Eby said in a statement that the school district recognizes that the incident relates to the national conversation about transgender students’ rights and law enforcement’s role in school.

“In light of this, we must emphasize that the arrest in this situation was not the result of the student’s attempt to use a male restroom,” Eby said. “The student was arrested solely for assaulting and threatening an officer during an altercation which the student appeared to initiate.”

The U.S. Department of Justice instructed schools in May to let students use the restroom of their choosing.

“A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity,” a DOJ letter on transgender students said. “A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so.”

The letter said that schools that fail to follow the directive could lose federal funding.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, 59 percent of transgender students have been denied access to restrooms consistent with their gender identity, while 75 percent of transgender youth feel unsafe at school.

Eby said the district addresses each transgender student’s concerns individually.

“It has been and will continue to be our practice to work with transgender students and their parents on a case-by-case basis to provide accommodations for their safety, privacy and well-being,” Eby said. “The right to such accommodations extends to all students.”

According to court records, the student has requested a trial by jury.