When The Boys’ Room Isn’t Safe For A Boy

My son is six and a half years old.  He’s been potty trained with nary an accident since exactly his third birthday.

Last week, in his first grade classroom, he peed his pants.  He sat in his urine until the dismissal bell rang.  His pants were soaked and cold when he got out of school.  He was uncomfortable and he smelled.  He didn’t want anybody to know.  It was his secret.

He started crying in the car.

“I’m so ashamed of myself,” he said over and over again.  Tears rolled down his face, even though he willed them not to.  He couldn’t hold them back.

Come to find out, my son — with his long auburn hair, pink and purple fitted clothes, feminine backpack and wrist full of rainbow-colored loom bracelets – is terrified to use the boys’ bathroom at school.

photo 1On his first visit to the boys’ bathroom, he headed straight for the safety of the stall.  Boys started peeking through the cracks in the stall to see if he was going pee or poop.  Pooping at school is an embarrassment.  He avoided the bathroom for as long as he could.  The next time he had to go, he, again, walked straight to the stall.  He locked the door behind him.  He lifted the toilet seat lid and unzipped his pants.  He could hear them talking.  He could hear them looking.  He turned around.  Boys were peeking through cracks again.  This time they were trying to see his genitals.  They wanted to know if my son has a penis or a vagina.

My son refuses to go into the boys’ bathroom again.  He has stopped drinking his juice boxes at lunch.  He refuses to drink anything at breakfast.  He’ll do anything to not have to use the boys’ bathroom at school.  He’ll do anything to avoid having strangers look at his private parts while taking bets as to what they’ll see when they get to see something.

I’m sure you can understand why my son is not comfortable using the boys’ restroom at school.  He wouldn’t be comfortable using the girls’ restroom either.  Because he identifies as male, the girls’ bathroom doesn’t feel like the place for him.

He wants to use the boys’ bathroom, it’s just that he wants to feel safe once he crosses the threshold into a domain that is loud, messy and run by the boys who dominate the playground.  It’s a world where adults are not allowed and one where being different or weak makes you a target.

We have a “female campus,” which means that our principal and vice principal are female.  I’m told that it’s against the law for them to enter the boys’ restroom.  It’s the only place on campus where the kids have free reign.  They know that adults can’t enter.  It’s like Lord of the Flies in there.  An island of urine, screams, voyeurism and soaking wet paper towels thrown onto the ceiling and hanging down like dirty icicles.  It’s aggressive; my son is not.

My son has been given the option to use the nurse’s bathroom in the school’s front office.  To a first grader at one of the largest elementary school campuses in Orange County, the nurse’s office feels like it’s miles away.  When he does use that restroom, the other kids ask him why.  He feels weird no matter where he pees.

So, instead, he holds his bladder from 7:40 am. To 2:30 p.m., except for on days like the other day, when he could hold it no longer.

photo 2After getting emotional and feeling blue about raising a boy who only likes pink, I contacted the school.  I wiped my own tears and set out to fight his battles, clear his path and ensure that my son would be safe and comfortable at school.  I feel like I’m the only mother who has to fight for her son’s rights to toilet in privacy, without others trying to get a good look at what’s between his legs.

“Of course you should talk to the school,” my brother said.  “But, you need to teach him to stand up for himself if he doesn’t like what’s happening to him.”

I had been operating in crisis mode.  I had been so focused on handling the problem for him, that I was forgetting to teach him how to handle it on his own.

We role-played.

“Stop looking at my privates.”

“You’re being rude.”

“If you don’t stop, I’m going to tell.”

“How would you like it if someone was watching you go to the bathroom?”

“Don’t be gross.”

“What you’re doing is not okay.”

“STOP IT!”

It doesn’t feel like enough.  It’s not enough.  But at least now, my son knows what to say to try to defend and protect himself.

I talked to my mom about it.  Weeks ago she left her bible study in tears.  A fellow church-going Christian claimed to have insider information and knew that my son was using the girls’ bathroom at school.  There would be hell to pay when “everybody else” found out about it.

My son isn’t using the boys’ bathroom, he’s not using the girls’ bathroom, he’s hardly using a bathroom at all.  I worry every day.  Going to the bathroom should be the easiest part of the school day.  But, for my son it’s not.

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213 Responses to When The Boys’ Room Isn’t Safe For A Boy

  1. I went through the same thing when I was in school, only it was with using the girls’ bathroom and the girls tended to just look at me strangely and talk to each other about me and ask me if I was in the right place. I tended to ask to go during class and I’d only go in when no one else was in the bathroom.
    It gets even harder in high school when you have to use the locker room. So hopefully you can work it out now so it’ll be easier for your son.

  2. 7starangel says:

    Reblogged this on Endless Wishing on Wells and Stars and commented:
    When are we going to teach kids how to leave others alone during their private time? This kid is gonna suffer some serious physical and metal issues if privacy in using the bathroom cannot be ensued.

  3. Just about an hour ago, I wrote a blog post at http://www.newlywednotdead.com to serve as a sort of plea to the world on behalf of my future child. I don’t know if my child will be gay, straight, feminine, masculine, goofy, awkward, pretty, plain, or polka-dotted, but I am so so sad that I will be bringing them into a world where we have to classify everyone in a way that leaves so many feeling left out and uncomfortable. I hope your son finds a way to feel comfortable in his school–it’s simply his right to have a safe place to go to the bathroom!

  4. RAISING CHILDREN SMART GOING TRUE…AMIEN…

  5. The real issue here is that respect for others is something that every parent needs to teach their child! I hope that things are much better for your son. My 13 yr old son has recently come out to us as gay and we had no idea. He was miserable in Elementary school starting in the 5th Grade but Middle School has been much better. He came out and has a group of friends that accept him for who is and not who he is attracted to! Hang in there.

  6. Sorry to hear that he must be going through a bad patch

  7. Dana McClelland says:

    I was utterly shocked when I read your story. I have a physical handicap so I know what’s it like to be teased and bullied, but I can’t even emagine what you son is going through. Being teased about his privates. All I can say is for you and your son to hang in there. those that doesn’t break us, only make us stronger!!!!! GOOD LUCK

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  9. I’ve lived through this with my now 24 yr old very feminine son, Schuyler. I just wrote a long post and lost it when I set down my phone. It’s getting late! I’ll rewrite it tomorrow. Or if I am lucky maybe it will reappear!!

  10. garyfjones says:

    Hope things go better for your son. I’ve often questioned the wisdom of building large schools, especially for younger children.

  11. Hi

    I had tears in my eyes while reading your post. Girls can be mean and cruel too! It brought back memories on how I was made fun of over my English, I was called fat and ugly and girls used to gossip about me which still hurts to this day. So I connect with CJ on many grounds. But I had a strong mother like you. She not only taught me to be strong and defend myself, but at the same time, she also taught me to help others who were made fun of and stand up for them so that others get encouraged and stand up (although that’s another thing that I got beaten up in one incident, but, that incident changed the life of the girl being defended as the whole class stood up against those bullying girls). She continuously stood up for me and like you taught me how to speak up when statements were made. She discouraged me going down silently.

    As for those bullies, well it definitely reflects on the parents and their upbringing and it will come back to haunt them some time. And for those women who gossip in the church, well don’t give them any of your energy at all! They don’t deserve it and you don’t need to stoop to their low levels.

    Please be strong. CJ will become strong as he will see a strong mother supporting him. All that bullying from girls, my mom protected me and helped me transform that negative energy into a positive one. Today, I am a well educated individual with a great job because of a strong, confident mother who shielded me and taught me lessons at every step of the way.

    Like all readers, I strongly suggest that you continue to teach him to defend himself and not be scared. The more you teach him, the more he will learn and one fine day will stand up to those bullies. Do tell CJ that he has a strong supporter from a far away country and who will pray for him from the bottom of the heart that he becomes strong and be protected.

    Loads of Love to CJ and you

  12. nati72 says:

    I’m sorry to hear that your son as well as you go through this. This subject should not even be an issue. I don’t understand how some people raise their children to be so rude to begin with. This is not an advice I should give you but in my anger right now I say it anyway. Your son should turn around an just pee in their faces. That should keep them from peeking. Sorry just got carried away here.

  13. lennoxj says:

    This was really hard to read. I can’t believe kids at that age act in such a way…

  14. jimmyootc says:

    Reblogged this on The Unwanted: an opportunity to help the people and commented:
    This article shows in one way how bulling has become a huge problem for people

  15. lustieb says:

    That poor boy. The school needs to handle that better. This wouldn’t happen if schools informed people about LGBTQ and etc. Kids can be so mean!

  16. th3bak3rman says:

    I have only read the first few of the almost 200 responses, so I hope I am not repeating anything already expressed or asked. Also, it has been six months since you posted this entry, so I hope it has been resolved. But, I am curious….

    What has administration done – Have you talked to the principal? or, how about the school counselor? Children in the primary grades are often empathetic to other’s feelings when given the right guidance. This behavior can be considered bullying – and many schools are now implementing anti-bullying policies.

    Some teachers schedule restroom breaks into the day. They take the entire class in the hall, 2-3 boys at a time enter the boys’ bathroom, and 2-3 girls at a time go to the girls’ bathroom. Most teachers also assign students to be bathroom monitors during this time. I don’t know if you would be comfortable mentioning this to the teacher or counselor, but it can provide a more safe environment when children go to the restroom.

    Best of luck to you and your son.

  17. summer.reyes says:

    My son is turning 6 next month. Thank you for sharing this. I’ll pray for you all. There is so much evil in this world. Your son should definitely not have to worry about something as simple as #1. It breaks my heart that we have to send our (forever) babies into the cold world. I pray those children’s parents have a change of heart and fix their children. You know they are what they see.

  18. Irwan Juanda says:

    I can relate (though not completely) with your son’s condition and your worries, while reading your post I am upset, totally upset that the other children seem don’t know how to respect other children, I want to blame whoever teaches them that or does not teach them that it is wrong. Maybe this is ridiculous, but somehow I’d this crazy impossible idea (as I live overseas) to go with you to his school and just do something, I don’t know yet what that is… but I want to. Anything to make the condition better. Why? It’s because your son’s condition was mine, about 18 years ago! Not the same problem, but the issue is the same… you are being different and the other kids just make you feel like that it is wrong and go on and go on. I’d like to say to your son, it is not! However, what concerns me more is the fact that it is not physically healthy (and also phsycologically) to hold your urge. I’m not sure what’s the best to do in this situation for your son and you, I hope you will find it soon. And I’d like to hear it when things go well! Really!!!

    And please pass my words to your son, “Purple fitted clothes, feminine backpack and wrist full of rainbow-colored loom bracelets are cool and rock and if you like it, never let it go for whoever stupid enough to say that they are not!”

    My best wishes for you and your son, Lori!

  19. Tara M says:

    I hope that your son is able to get the support he needs in the school so he doesn’t have to deal with this. You can go through so much when you’re school aged and some things you never forget because it was just that traumatizing.

  20. allthenamesaretakensothisisreallyreallylong says:

    I am so sorry to hear about this. I am a butch woman and was a really butch little girl and I know first hand how terrifying a bathroom trip can be. I hope you find a solution with the school.

  21. Reblogged this on aureliomontemayor and commented:
    Boys have a rough time keeping their privates private especially around aggressive machos whatever their age and physical attributes. Adults tend to ignore or aggravate the problem…especially coach-type persons.

  22. Its hurtful to think you can’t be there to do extra for your son however the best tactic was to teach him how to handle it. Which you did. So hats off to you and may your son be rid of these worries because to be honest he shouldn’t have this on his head as a small child.

  23. Lefty says:

    As I read it, the most serious part of this problem is not so much that your son is being bothered by the other boys in the bathroom (though that IS serious). I can’t believe that the school has actually made areas of the facility off limits to the authority figures running it. That’s patently absurd and hamstrings their authority. If the students know this, then their principal and vice-principal’s collective authority is already a joke to them.

    Having the two top authority figures at a mixed gender school be both of the same gender is very questionable as it does not represent the student body fairly in the construction of the faculty and highlights the ignorance and incompetence of the decision making of those above them in creating such a situation. That situation also raises the question of if any male faculty exist at the school and if so, why aren’t they doing anything to help your son?

    On the above grounds, I’d make this matter legal for the school and the school board they come under. There’s a lot of totally unacceptable stuff going on at that level alone from what you’ve written.

    From a personal standpoint, I remember the bathrooms from when I was in school and always wondered why the cubicle doors and walls didn’t extend fully to the ceiling and the floor and why the doors weren’t designed to close so that annoying gap that could be looked through was eliminated. If bathrooms are intended to ensure privacy, why are school bathrooms (and many public bathrooms in general) designed to foster a lack of it? They are mostly designed to encourage the disrespectful behaviour your son is being subjected to.

    As for witty comebacks your son could use when they ask why he uses the nurse’s bathroom (comebacks which might also send a message to faculty):

    “Because that’s the only CLEAN bathroom in the school!”
    “Because there’s no PERVERTS in that bathroom!”

    As much as I don’t like fighting, I have to say that your brother is right when he says you need to teach your son to defend himself. You won’t always be there to protect his interests and, clearly, the authority figures at his school can’t or won’t.

    My mother taught me not to fight when I was a child and everything was fine until I started going to school and getting bullied frequently because I wasn’t much into sports like the other boys were and I was a bit of a loner by my nature. My mother had hammered it into me that fighting is wrong under ALL circumstances and that there is ALWAYS a way to avoid it; I learned in short order from the bullies that such notions were more the territory of theory than practice.

    Like your son, aggressiveness is not in my nature. However, I did learn that the ability to defend myself physically in a measured fashion was not outside my abilities. I never physically hurt a bully, but I learned how to push back in a strong an meaningful enough way that they got the message most of the time.

  24. vnktchari says:

    Really a very serious matter. It’s a kind of bullying and ragging. I am 60 year old and even now I do not get urine passed if somebody stands by my side and passes urine. I feel ashamed even now. It is the nature of some people who do not let it publicly.

  25. So heartbreaking as a parent to not be able to ‘fix’ his fears & make everything ok. Kids are so cruel.

  26. Robyn says:

    Poor baby :(
    He should be allowed to go when he needs to go, maybe before the other boys? It’s not healthy for him to hold his bladder all day like that, kidney problems or even urinary tract infections can be caused by not urinating properly, let alone the pain and dehydration. If any of these things occurs the school should most certainly be held responsible!
    ((Hugs))) mom. You have a hard path ahead. We are all here for you!

  27. kendrarayne says:

    I believe the school should of punished the boys not give him a choice to use the other restroom. It sickens me that this is what the world has come to.

  28. I “like” this… without liking it all. Painful story – we have a lot of work to do.

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  30. Your son is so unbelievably lucky to have you. Kids are cruel and adults are worse. This is tough… I know. Kids called me a dyke before I even knew what a dyke was. They knew I was gay before I knew. All kids have struggles, but the ones who struggle the most are those without a loving home, a healthy, happy relationship with family, and the support of the people who are most important. Your son has all of those things. He will be OK. Eventually, he will learn to defend himself, and it might be really tough until then. But, all you can do now is remind him how much he is loved and how brave he is for being himself and doing what’s right. Although, I would probably bombard the school with phone calls because that’s definitely sexual harassment. I will be keeping you both in my thoughts and prayers. It sounds like you have a wonderful little boy.

  31. Writer X says:

    It worries me that this goes on for many reasons, and I do hope you can find a way to sort it out. But the most worrying fact is that this goes on in a boy’s toilet. Speaking from experience I don’t believe this would happen to a girl in a girl’s toilet. Girls just don’t have the same mentality of ‘I can do what I want, I don’t care’ mentality as boys. We clearly need to find out why boys such as these think that this is ok, and if they know it isn’t why are the doing it?
    The world frustrates me!

    • Lefty says:

      Not to be combative with you, but I must take issue with your statement:

      “Speaking from experience I don’t believe this would happen to a girl in a girl’s toilet. Girls just don’t have the same mentality of ‘I can do what I want, I don’t care’ mentality as boys.”

      With respect to your own experience, your comment is a dangerous over generalization to make. There’s plenty of female bullies out there and they can be a whole lot worse in their own way than male ones.

      Female bullying tends to be a lot more discreet than male bullying and a lot harder to detect because the female bullies are generally a lot more careful with where and when they do the bullying and are usually better than male bullies at making a “nice” image of themselves when authority figures are watching. As such, female bullying is not only more difficult to detect but also more difficult to investigate.

      Girls are not “Sugar and spice and everything nice” and it’s time we faced up to that and stopped acting like it was the case. I knew plenty of female bullies at school who got away with far worse things than the male ones simply because nobody of authority would believe girls would do such things.

      • Writer X says:

        I apologise you are totally right, and I agree girls are just as bad. The point I way trying to make (but didn’t convey well) is that I feel like, as you said, girls don’t tend to bully in this way. And that I feel like girls bullying can be more psychological, rather than physical i.e. I’m going to look at you whilst your are vunerable. But then again I suppose that is actually quite psychological, and as we have seen hasn’t damaged this little boy physically. Oh dear, I suppose boys can do this too. I apologise if my comment came across as saying girls don’t bully.
        PS In no way was this combative, and I am glad you replied. I am happy you called me out and that you want to voice your opinion, which is totally valid :)

  32. Wow this was so sad to read, I like the bathroom buddy idea, maybe that would be a good idea

  33. tlehmann says:

    Having worked in a daycare for several years and been in charge if controlling the organized pandemonium that is an elementary school washroom, this story hit a soft spot for me. A brave article; keep up the good work!

  34. I’m so sorry to hear of your sons experience. It sounds absolutely abhorrent. I couldn’t believe that you were talking about children so young.
    I had a few thoughts:
    1) Can the mums be spoken to openly at a meeting held at the school or at your home? May be they don’t know what little tikes their sons are being or how it is affecting your family.
    2) Can the school designate a male teacher to chaperone him? Not the perfect solution granted.
    3) Could the school educate the children on what bullies are and promote good behaviour ?
    I hope that things get better.

  35. katherinejlegry says:

    I agree with your readers that kids need to learn how to protect and defend themselves… but six year olds need help doing that. The school should be required to hire a male bathroom attendant if female staff are not allowed in the restroom. Little boys can not be expected to manage themselves in groups. I’m sorry for what your little boy is facing. He shouldn’t feel shame, especially at age six.

  36. pramod5483 says:

    good article i really like it. something new to lean as daddy

  37. lizard100 says:

    The school needs to tackle this. Go hard go legal. The toilet facilities should be private. If the school doesn’t allow women in for privacy reasons they should ensure the students do have privacy from each other. Avoiding specific bathrooms is a infringement of human rights. It needs to be tackled.

  38. I really do feel for your son. Such a emotional and challenging situation. I had a thing at school were I couldn’t eat in school… Pupils taking my food or watching me eat, it made me feel awkward. Hope your son is happy in life very soon. X

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  41. This made me so sad! I really hope you’ve been able to find a solution to this by now; it’s completely unacceptable.

  42. Liam SW says:

    Though I didn’t wear anything but cheap boys’ clothing when I was in grammar school (1962-1969), it was in a small (<1500 people) town in the Deep South. I was the higher IQ child who was harassed frequently. I too taught myself how to avoid the bathroom while at school, which I continued through high school. I'm 59 now, and can still remember the harassment.

  43. charity bost says:

    well I just finished your book “Raising My Rainbow” I just want to tell you how amazing and awesome you and you family is. C.J sounds like the most fabulous person to hang with!!! Plus it sounds like he has a great sence of style!!! Monster High rocks lol and i am 19 years old and still play with the dolls and barbies with my neice! I think what your doing is awesome and brave I love how brave you are and how strong you are for C.J’s sake. I hope life gets easier for you and your family. People need to understand that the world is changing, yes things/people might be diffrent but different can be a great thing am awesome thing because if there wasent diffrent people or things life would be boring and everyone would be the same. BORING!!!! I think it is wrong for the school not to be taking care of the situation at hand. They should have a family bathroom that is for girls and boys plus I really think they should have a bathroom moniter that can help with the peeking in the stalls. A male teacher could talk to the boys about it or something it just is not right for boys to be trying to see what is between ur sons legs that is your family’s and son’s business no one eles. I respect and love you for sticking up for your son and your family I think your doing a great job. Don’t let anyone bring you down :-) ha how can you with C.J around he sounds so cute and amazing and funny he has to keep a smile on your face :-)

  44. your poor, poor little guy. As a mother, I can’t even FATHOM the kinds of things that you and your little warrior go through every day. I have no solid advice, but just a HUG from afar.

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  47. Lisa C says:

    This is beyond infuriating. The school should be sued over this. This is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE!!!!! My heart breaks for your little guy. He should not have to suffer in this undignified way. For everyone’s sake, I hope Gender Spectrum will be paying a visit to the school to educate them.

  48. jeff says:

    hope you can find a way to solve this problem. CJ should not have to go through this

  49. Megan says:

    Sorry to hear that this is happening to CJ. Honestly my first reaction was, I hope he doesn’t get a urinary tract infection (UTI). More common in women, but being dehydrated and “holding” urine too long can put you at greater risk of developing a UTI.
    I remember how painful UTIs are. As an adult, I’ve gotten two because, at my job, I’m gowned into a clean room environment, and sometimes bathroom and water breaks can be far between. At school, up until college, I avoided using the bathroom. Not because there were peers disrespecting my privacy, but I just felt the facilities were dirty and preferred to keep my underwear on. Turns out, I couldn’t protect myself anyway because I remember a couple of UTIs in high school. We all have our quirks! And we learn.
    If the school is that big, surely there must be a male staff member at the school that can help though, right? If not, I see the harsh reality in two options: long trip to the school nurse or stand up for himself in the public boys bathroom.
    Best of luck to CJ. He faces lots of obstacles, but he is not alone. I commend how supportive you and your husband are as parents.

  50. 'Angela' (John) says:

    Sometimes, kids can amaze us. This really moved me, and I hope that it moves you too.

    http://www.upworthy.com/watch-an-entire-team-of-teenage-football-players-do-something-very-unexpected?c=reccon1

    It’s refreshing, and essential, to be reminded that not all kids are bad

  51. Joe Casadonte says:

    I talked to a friend who is a former grade school teacher and a current curriculum coordinator for a district in New Jersey. She was of the opinion that the district could be (and should be) doing a hell of a lot more than they already are. For instance, in New Jersey this would classify as bullying and there would be a whole host of things that the district would be legally obligated to do. Check with your state laws and see if they apply there.

    She also gave some practical ideas, like filling in the cracks between stalls and in the doors and such. Putting a monitor in the bathroom was not practical, she thought, because you would actually need to put two people in each bathroom, because no adult should be alone in there for liability reasons. However, the school could put an adult outside of the bathroom, and only allow two students in at a time. Also, they could monitor who uses the bathrooms via hall passes and find out if there are groups of kids using them at the same time consistently, helping to identify the problem kids.

    Ultimately she thought the solution would come down to enacting a culture change within the school. Teaching kids about privacy (their own and others), teaching kids about bullying, making sure the teachers understood that these issues are serious, etc. That’s a long-term fix. Some of the ideas mentioned above are merely there until the culture can be changed.

  52. Crystal Ryan says:

    Ask your son if there are other boys he feels safe with, who can help him out and accompany him to the bathroom. There is safety in numbers and the bully boys might back off if they see your son has friends. I would contact the friendly boys parents so they can reinforce and support the helpful role their sons can play. Also, you might consider a martial arts class for you son, to instill self confidence and self reliance. Positive note: everyone, regardless of gender, wears the same thing in a martial arts class, so it might be a very relaxing group situation for him.

  53. Patty says:

    As a teacher, and one who spent the past school year monitoring both bathrooms (boy and girl) during group potty breaks, I have a lot of thoughts. First of all, it may be against school policy for females to enter the boys room, but I highly doubt it’s illegal. I suggest checking at the district level for a policy.
    Second, the peeking through the stall cracks is a universal problem for all kids, which is magnified by the aggressive curiosity of the other boys and C.J.’s vulnerability. Ask the principal to remind ALL students of the bathroom privacy rules and consequences for peeking and harassment. Ask CJ’s teacher to address the problem in the classroom as well. She can share that quite of few students have told her that they are sometimes uncomfortable in the bathroom and that she wants all of her students to remind others not to peek if they see it happen, and tell a teacher or yard duty right away. Ask her to allow a bit more bathroom passes than she might usually so that CJ and others can go during class time (which is not a sure fire cure – there will still be other kids in the bathroom at the same time.) Also ask if all of her students can go with a buddy for a while to “guard.” It could be a win-win, CJ’s buddy could be that active boy that really needs a break from sitting and probably has no verbal filter, so he might be able to tell off other kids a lot easier than CJ. She will have a rash of kids reporting dramatic accounts of peeking and bathroom trauma, because it’s first grade, but good, because it will further take the focus off of CJ and “his” problem.
    Third, urinals are weird and I can’t really imagine that part of the male experience, but maybe CJ and his dad and brother could practice using urinals in “safer” bathrooms. Feeling comfortable using the urinal at school may be another way for him to learn to “stand up for himself” in that environment. Certainly doing his business with confidence at the urinal (at least after the first few times) will attract less attention that scurrying the elusive “safety” of the stall (like I did in the smoke filled junior high bathrooms in 7th grade.)

  54. mrsslip says:

    You aren’t the only one fighting these battles, although I can see why you would feel that way! I have an almost six-year-old boy who identifies as a girl, wears girls’ clothes, has a pink bedroom, etc. We are constantly trying to overcome obstacles and the more we talk about it, the fewer obstacles there will be. Keep fighting the good fight and I will do the same!

  55. Stella says:

    Once, when I was sixteen, one of our lessons started with a furious teacher. He told us he was so angry with us and so disappointed. He thought we were on page, that bullying was not okay, that seeing someone being bullied without saying anything was not okay! He thought that we were better than this, but he was obviously wrong, because one person at the school was bullied! We should be ashamed of ourselves! We listened, heads down, abashed. I felt ashamed even though I had never talked to the guy, barely knew who he was since he was a year younger.
    Every class in the school was told the same thing that day. That was the one and only time I heard anything about bullying at the school. There was never any discussion, it wasn’t needed. Just this “Bullying is wrong, so f*ing don’t!”
    I don’t know how big school this is, but the treatment of one student regards the school as a whole.

    Imagine your girlfriend telling you that her boyfriend hits her if she comes home to late. Or that her boss gropes her. Or that her coworker tell her her hair color is ugly.
    Would you tell her to go home early, not stand so close to her boss and to dye her hair?

    Telling CJ to use another bathroom is doing just this. I do not know what the rules and laws around bullying and sexual harassment are in California, but I’m pretty sure it’s not ok.
    On the other hand, these are kids, and they are curious. They are not necessarily malicious in their behavior, but they need to be told. When children sense weakness, they can turn and behave like animals.

    PS
    http://www.thelocal.se/20130425/47554 This happened in Sweden. The students asked for it, the students demanded it and the teachers complied. Of course it was a huge outcry of how the political correctness had gone too far and were we now to have gender neutral toilets in every public place as well? I don’t see the problem. We go to gender neutral toilets every day. At our homes.

  56. Ac says:

    I so sympathize with him. I didn’t have bathroom issues until middle school, when I started holding it all day so I wouldn’t get bullied in the bathrooms. I’m a cis straight female, I just got picked on for being quiet and shy and being an easy target. This was also the same age that I started my periods and was too ashamed to tell my mother so I would have to stuff paper towels in my pants and pray it lasted all day until I could get home from school. I actually have bladder issues now (i’m 25) that result from holding it for so long every day, so you should get this worked out. I’m so sorry this is happening to you.

  57. lovingthem says:

    This just breaks my heart. My partner is very butch, and people still give her the evil eye when she uses the women’s room. She HATES it. And we are adults. All I can say is that while kids can be mean, they can also just be curious. They just may not know how to ask the questions they have in an appropriate way. Does your son have a friend that could go with him to the restroom? Or is there a male teacher in a nearby classroom that could help out? In any case, keep us updated on what happens!

  58. Justin says:

    Have your son use the nurses bathroom in the office. The faculty should not have an issue with it, especially considering the bullying.

  59. Magdalena says:

    I cried when I read this.

  60. Julie says:

    How about a system/sign where he can let the teacher know he has to go and an understanding he can leave, go quickly and come back? That way he can go at a time when the bathroom is empty/slow… I agree he will eventually need to learn to stick up for himself, but he’s still so young!

  61. Julie says:

    I meant…………If I were you, I might contact the ACLU. (I didn’t mean to imply that I would contact them for you, LOL.)

  62. Julie says:

    I think I might contact the ACLU. You son’s rights are being violated, and the school apparently doesn’t want to deal with it much, from what you’ve written.

  63. Amp says:

    So I felt I needed to replay, since most of these responses are people blaming the school, or the bathroom, or the kids, or offering sympathy for their own child….and one I saw who had experienced such things but had no advice.

    I was a “tomboy” and suffered the exact same issues…..people peeking, people asking. I avoided public toilets for years. To this day one of the safest places I’ve ever felt is my own bathroom with a locked door, and I did NOT experience anywhere near some of the levels of abuse I know can go on.

    But I’m here to cheer you up…..kids are resilient. The kids in the school, generally, are curious. They don’t know how to express it, and it comes out as a violation of privacy. WE ARE NOT GOING TO CHANGE THAT. It’s fricken human nature people. But we can change how we teach them to react. I’d suggest to the school that they have a workshop for the kids, where some different people can come and speak about their difficulties and what it feels to always have the spotlight on them. This helps to teach children how to appropriately satisfy their curiosity without sacrificing someone else’s dignity.

    I was walking down a street in my home town a few years ago, a grown woman. Happily Married, with a house thousands of miles away. I tutor children, even looking forward to children of my own soon. I was just visiting family. A little girl and boy, playing in their front yard, see me go by and blurt out “Are you a girl or a boy?” My whole childhood came crashing down in moments. What had I done, I wondered? I was wearing pants yes, but they were woman’s pants. I had long hair. Is it how I walk? And then I took a breath and shook off all the insecurity that had built up from my childhood and tried to remember that these were CHILDREN. They were curious, and gods if I wasn’t going to add my little part back into the circle. I answered, calmly and carefully, “Why?” And they were stumped. The younger little boy takes a step forward and asks unsurely “Well, cuz I wanna know”. So I say “Well it’s not really polite to ask, but I identify as a woman”. And the look of release, like the world had not been shaken, on the older sister’s face was palpable. And then a wave went over both of their faces as they realized I had said “Identify” instead of “Am”. And a little quirky smile appeared on the little boys face, and a frown on the girls. I’d just introduced an entirely new concept to them, that of choice.

    I can only hope that the adult they asked at some point followed through with the lesson. And that’s where the hope comes in. You, Lori, can really only do two things for you son that will be effective, in my humble opinion. The first you are doing FANTASTICALLY, which is teaching him to be assertive and dignified in his defense of his place in this world. The second is harder, because it relies on other people. We need to help teach other people not to segregate, which is their natural response, but to help incorporate. Speaking from experience, an adult to take him to the bathroom would not help, it would only accentuate the difference. Screens around the spaces of the door would not help, the children would only be more curious about what is being hidden. The children need to be helped to understand that curiosity is GOOD but respect for other living things is also important, and in some cases should trump an individuals desire to know.

    Hang in there, you’re doing fine.

    • MM says:

      thank you for this viewpoint and your suggestions. I really value these contributions!

    • 'Angela' (John) says:

      I like the thinking here, and I believe that it’s an important contribution to the comments added to the original posting from Lori.

      Pretty much all the way through I’ve advocated tackling the problem at source – other children – but I hadn’t given enough thought to how it should be done. I believe that Amp has done that for me; thank you.

      By coincidence I’ve also just seen some statistics about child bullying at http://www.upworthy.com/infographic-how-could-this-happen-to-28-of-kids-on-our-watch-5?c=upw1
      This article is quite an eye-opener!

    • A.G. Flynn says:

      Well played, Amp.
      There is really nothing like the feeling that “those questions” bring to the fore when asked by little ones. By anyone, really, but little humans especially.
      No matter how *old* or *up* I’ve grown – it still jostles the daily balance to run up against the ineffective perception or ‘simple’ curiosity of others when it comes to whom or what I “am.”
      NO matter how confident I feel about who I am – others can barge in, uninvited, at any time, in any place, and disrupt my day. I like your response – but I still loathe having to fill in gaps of the world for anyone who thinks its okay to barge in and ask. Or who thinks its okay to surmise and suppose and snicker about it as I pass.
      I deal with OPK, Other People’s Kids, regularly. I try to accent my interactions with a note of civility and how they might do better next time their ‘wanna know’ gene kicks in. But their inquisitions are not always neat, discrete, packaged moments. Sometimes the events are interruptions to otherwise happily uneventful days. Days that I wish would go on being bland, beige days of me being allowed to simply be what and whom I am – without anyone else stirring up my past, or my present presentation or making me question how I can avoid them or comfort them in the future.

    • ajarseneault says:

      This response, by Amp, is amazing. I do not really have time to reply to this right now; however, I think this is important and I don’t want it to be just another thing that gets swallowed by the internet. I am brusque normally but please forgive my hurry. I am clicking both notify boxes; I can reply later in the week if anyone wants me to be more specific about anything.

      The reason this is so important is because this event is the moment where the general and the specific collide. These moments are why ‘the personal is political’ was the battle cry for so many feminists and other progressives. The role play, the nurse bathroom, and speaking to the principal are all good reactive responses, but they only address the specific moment and the individuals involved. The problem is not your child; however, the majority of the concern is in regards to your child. It is hard to do on a daily basis, but the effort needs to be applied towards the other children.

      What type of advocacy or support groups exist in your community? Is the school open to the idea of having a talk by, or field trip to, people who live this kind of advocacy social-justice? At this age it is important to have positive teaching experiences — not a reactive lesson to ‘punish’ their curiosity. (We often make pedagogical simplifications for children. Of course we want these students to knock off what they are doing, but we cannot teach it to them like that.) Reactive teaching to this kind of social justice issue does not teach empathy, compassion, and understanding. Particularly since you cannot be certain that the same punitive measures will be applied to these children as they move through life. These children, exposed to these punitive lessons of morality, don’t learn to value the dignity of ‘othered individuals,’ they learn what they can and cannot say in public. In many cases we, as a society, forget about this distinction. Take, as an example, young men learning about sexism. These punitive lessons don’t eliminate sexism so much as they instantiate a ‘benign sexism.’ These children then become the types of men who would NEVER tell a sexist joke, but still laugh at them when women are not around.

      The difference is important. There is infinite variety among individuals and in the world at large. By focusing on a single individual act we create spaces that we may not have intended to create. Removing the act creates a need for curious children to judge your child in other ways. By progressively molding ideas and focusing on the other children, we approach the root. By doing this we may not stop all instances of the act, but the context has changed. Curious children may always tease one another, but we do not need to accept that this teasing must belittle certain people. Peaking around the door isn’t the problem per se; the problem is that your child is being made to feel as though they need to justify their personhood. In my ideal world, for better or worse, some children might still try to peek into your son’s stall; but, in my ideal world the most aggressive guy in the boys bathroom would tell your son that Jasmine was a better princess. In my ideal world we could finally have a conversation about aggressive children or bullying without having to reinvent the wheel for those who do not understand oppression.

      Now I would like to emphasize why “I” believe this to be so important. For a long time, approximately the first 24 years of my life, I was sympathetic to members of marginalized groups without understanding the idea that oppression was a systematic problem. Then something changed for me. I had managed to get to the point of nearly completing a BA honours in Political Science without having my learning disorder diagnosed. I was diagnosed, but not before I was forced out of university and into a minimum wage job loading trucks. When my life took such an abrupt turn I could finally empathize with the notion that oppression is a systemic problem. Today I joke that I was ‘kicked out of the normal category overnight.’ There is an incredible difference between knowing something academically and living it. Not being able to take off your label at any time or for any reason, sucks. Today with medication, training, and preparation I can move through social situations without ‘outing’ myself. I have other forms of privilege that allow me to hide my label when I need to, but it never comes off.

      I am telling you about my experience because I think it can serve as a good teachable. I spend a lot of time volunteering now. Sometimes at sexual assault crisis centres, sometimes with more nebulous social justice movements. When I move and begin to volunteer with these groups I often find myself rotated into certain roles. I am a straight white male. Ironically all of the privileges that hid my neurobiological disorder give me a very specific role and after nearly seven years of volunteering I feel like I have garnered a certain amount of insight.

      (Note: there is a more complicated discourse at play here since I have always had this disorder; but, the conversation of shock in my own family — I believe that my father has it as well — is not germane to your issue. This note is only here as background, since I am about to leave out massive amounts of small details that justify WHY I came to certain conclusions.

      Dad and I are both straight white guys and we come from a poor place. Working in the woods or in mills is very different than university. Had I not been trying to leave the ‘lower class’ I may not have noticed my problems either. The hyper-masculine and in-your-face culture that grows out of my home goes a long way towards hiding the impulse control, emotional disinhibition, and confusion problems I have to deal with. Society responds very differently when you snarl at a line foreman versus snarling at your thesis advisor. Yes, literally snarl because you are having a sensory overstimulation problem. No, I do not know why no one saw this before 2005.)

      Once the novelty of a straight white male that actually stays to ‘put the chairs up,’ help when there isn’t a popular event running, and generally be an actual volunteer wears off I find myself addressing certain questions. For the purposes of your issue the questions can be boiled down to one question ‘why don’t guys get it?’ I have had a lot of time to think about this question and it comes down to socialization in the boys bathroom and other spaces with immanent qualities of exclusion (no girls allowed).

      It is not likely that every guy out there has an undiscovered or unapplied label. This created an issue for me since I had a very specific epiphanny that is difficult or impossible to recreate. So, I tried to think back. Why was I, in my own ignorance, supporting an oppressive system? It came back to the boys bathroom. It is the repeated case that when I volunteered other guys talk about ways in which they were oppressed. Any example a marginalized group gave was countered with an unsympathetic response by a specific member of the privileged group. Conversations about oppression would come to a screeching halt because so many of these guys could not wrap their head around the idea that it was a systemic problem. This is why I kept thinking back to the boys bathroom.

      My ‘boys bathroom’ was the gym locker. My junior high school was built with a different era in mind. Mass showers and a communal change area was normal. I got picked on, a lot. (I came from a bit of a rough area. I was not homophobic — so I thought I must have been gay. I was a thirteen year old idiot who didn’t realize how much conservatism ran his home town. Either way, the ‘with us or against us’ mentality got me picked on beside the queer community for a year.) My problems escalated very quickly because I could not interpret the social cues very easily, pursuant to the neurobiological disorder mentioned above. Despite not wanting to be one of those guys I felt that I had very few options other than to physically defend myself. My dedication to non-violence was found wanting after my peers beat some organ damage into me.

      After my brief medical immobilization I returned to school on the same day as my bully’s expulsion ended. I could not understand what it was that I was doing that looked so ‘uppity.’ I could not figure out how to scrape and crawl in a manner that would grant my bully his due and allow him to go onto the next kid. I did not know it at the time but I was working with significantly fewer social cues than my peers. So I picked three points on a social continuum I could reliably identify: not-fighting, warning, or fighting. When my warning bells went off I stepped back and told people that I did not want to play, did not want to fight, and was feeling threatened. I told this person that unless we went our separate ways now, I would beat them until they were unconscious. I am not proud of it today, but for better or worse I understand the difference between a fifteen minute schoolyard fight and a three minute fight. (There is a strange and twisted homoerotism to having two partially nude men attack you in a locker room for being gay).

      The point of my long story is that every person experiences pressure to conform. It may be the case that some of the people being hardest on your child are themselves more comfortable with a sexuality that is slightly ‘abnormal.’ The difference being that, in the poker game of life they were given a hand that marks them as decidedly privileged. When these other children conform to their gender norms they receive enough rewards for them to learn to conform. I grew up near an Indian Reservation. (I use the legal political term because I am uncomfortable with white washing the racism inherent within the current system. These parcels of land are still subject to the 1867 Indian Act, no matter what we call them in popular conversation). During my childhood my most sexist and gender policing friends were members of the Mi’kmaq nation. Growing up I never understood why people who struggled with racism would be sexist. Looking back today I can see exactly why — no one wanted to be ‘the queer wagon burner.’ More politely put, they were overcompensating on one axis of privilege to overcome a deficit on another.

      I do not know what the school system is like in your area. I do know that in my hometown the children from grade one were always ‘around’ until I graduated high school. Even if you cannot win every child over it might be in the best interest of your child to push the school to include social justice and oppression awareness within the curriculum. This is a conversation you will have multiple times. Ideas become accepted when even people you dislike agree with the idea. The longer this idea stays a passionate project of you, teachers who care, and people who like your child — the more hours of work is put into the ‘us and them’ way of thinking. You help build a wall. If the schools in your area are anything like they were in my hometown, then the only way forward is to make it such that when someone oppresses your child even the people that do not like your child feel uncomfortable.

      I am out of time — these videos are examples of the types of teaching exercises that are needed as children get older. I think your school might need something like this ‘lite’ to be age appropriate. The videos focus on the lesson of ‘walking out.’

      • TaraLee says:

        Wow. I’m somewhat speechless in responding to your post. I feel as if I’ve attended a lecture and come out of it educated and better for it. I wish I could listen to you speak when you volunteer. I plan to share this with my grown children in anticipation of a great family conversation. My husband and two of our children also have neurobiological disorders. My husbands parents were teachers and he had excellent support and excelled, has been very successful due to that support. However, labels are oppressive and don’t make things any easier. When people become aware that my husband has this disability, they look at him differently, treat him differently despite his personal and professional success. Because of these experiences, we don’t often share our “labels” However, the world is changing. Education makes all the difference and I believe tolerance and acceptance are more prevalent than ever before. And so I have hope for all people with “labels”, including CJ, that one day it won’t make any more difference to people than their eye color. Thank you for taking the time to share your story!

  64. Lyn says:

    Lori, like so many others here I send love, strength, wisdom, patience and a little kick ass for when you need it. Our daughter is 11. She stopped going to the bathroom at school when she was 8. She is androgynous, has shorter hair than her brother, prefers “boys” clothes (how fabric can be gendered is a whole other conversation) and wholeheartedly identifies as a tomboy. It wasn’t her peers that were the problem then, it was the younger students. She had a repeated incident where kindergarten and grade 1 students would “freak out” and squeal that “there’s a boy in the girls room” until she left. We weren’t alerted to her avoidance of the bathroom until a similar incident, she couldn’t hold it any longer and peed herself at school. She was devestated. It didn’t change things for her though, she refused to drink, and refused to pee. She also had been granted access to the washroom in the infirmary and the special needs washroom at the front of the school. She also avoided these options for fear of the questions of “why?”.

    I want to tell you it will get better, get easier, that it will blow over and CJ will be fine in short order. I can’t. It won’t. It doesn’t. We had the best school cooperation you could hope for. We had teachers offer other washrooms, supervision, to keep other kids out; you name it, they offered. Our daughter didn’t want any of it. She didn’t want to feel any more different than she already does. We taught her how to defend herself, how to explain she was a girl. She didn’t want the confrontation. She simply refused to pee at school, or anywhere public for that matter.

    I’m not saying this is CJ’s fate. It’s one experience. I will say she started junior high this year and things shifted. Firstly, there are no younger kids to panic about her presence. Secondly, many of her peers are starting to exercise their own style and influence on their appearance, adding more gender bending and individuality than we typically see in elementary grades. Thirdly, in junior high, you have to change for gym. HAVE TO. So we started the year facing her fear of entering the girls change room. She feared people thinking she was in the wrong room. She feared the girls being afraid of her. She feared the boys mocking her. She had built up a world of fears that hadn’t even happened or showed any signs of happening. So we tore the walls down. With the amazing support of teachers, principals, and a group of friends, she entered the change room with no negative outcome. She changes every day for gym now … and has tested out going to the bathroom at school. There have been no incidents, but she still prefers to wait until she gets home.

    Why throw all this detail at you, when you’re overwhelmed and frustrated and afraid and still running on fight or flight? Because maybe you’ll be able to do it better than we did. You’ll help CJ prevent those walls. You’ll know what’s possibly coming. Because now you know, you’re not the only mom that had, or will have, to fight for their child’s right to privacy in the bathroom.

  65. 'Angela' (John) says:

    You’re right, in the sense that Lori has put herself (and, by extension, CJ) in the firing line, but who better to do it than a Mother who has such direct experience of the whole situation.

    Would you want to do it for her?? I notice that you didn’t offer, and I know that I couldn’t.

    It needs a parent who’s experience is now, who is intimately involved, and who is prepared to fight for and with her child. If it wasn’t Lori and CJ, then it would have to be another adult and their child somewhere else, so it isn’t really helpful to criticise.

    SOMEONE has to do it, or it never will get any better!

  66. Leisa says:

    While I agree that CJ must learn to stand up for himself, he is still just 6 years old. How sad for CJ and for you! The school must be held accountable for their responsibility to provive CJ a safe learning environment. However, from a practical standpoint, CJ needs a solution now (and depriving himself of fluids and becoming dehydrated is not healthy). Perhaps CJ could be given hall passes to go to the bathroom during classes without a lot of fanfare (the teachers understand ahead of time that this will be occurring when needed). Or maybe he can be allowed to use the Kindergarten bathrooms if his classroom is near these. Hugs to you and CJ

  67. This makes my heart ache. I just kind of shrivel up inside and feel so small with CJ, poor thing. I fear this very same thing for my son, though, thus far it feels like our school has been supportive and the kids mostly okay. I also totally relate to your feelings of taking care of it for him and forgetting to teach him to stand up for himself. With our kids, we have to remember to do both! As I’m sure you know, there are laws around this in California. CJ does NOT have to put up with this! Love and hugs, Strong Mama!

  68. Britney Crosson says:

    Oh my god. I’m so sorry to hear this. I have faith in you that you will help C.J. figure this out. He’s so lucky to have incredible parents to help him through tough times like this. Big hugs to all of you.

  69. tman13369 says:

    I can definitely relate to C.J.’s problem. I deliberately trained myself to stop using public restrooms when, after getting my hair cut in fifth grade, people were never sure if I was a boy or a girl. I wish I could offer advice, but sadly, nothing comes to mind.

  70. Daniela says:

    Hi,
    I’m from Germany and just followed the link of one of the previous replyer, because stalls with “peeping hole” are unknown to me. I just can’t believe how they stalls look like in your country. Of course no one wants to poop or pee when anyone can watch! I’m 33 years old and won’t to be inside the stalls even at my age; let alone at 6 or 7. That really is disgusting! Children and adults should be able to do this sort of thing in private! Why on earth was the school ordering such nonsense?
    And of course are children curious and try to watch. It’s obvious what will happen in the toilet.
    The best would be to look the “peeping holes” and even build the walls till the floor so that really no one can watch under it.
    It’s not CJs fault, really – it’s stupid architecture!
    I’m so sorry for all children, I guess CJ is not the only kid who holds his bladder!

  71. Vic Anne says:

    OMG! I can’t believe they are peeking in the stall! They need to fix those stalls ASAP! That is not right for ANYONE! :( Poor C.J. I hope they do something to help make the situation better for C.J. and they punish the boys who are being rude. Hugs and love from Florida.

  72. Keena says:

    I go to the University of Central Florida and in some of our bathrooms, we have seals on the stalls to prevent anyone from seeing in through the cracks. I know it isn’t a solid solution, I’m sure kids can still stand on the toilet in the next stall or look under, but it is a step. The seals are like the ones that go on the bottom of a door to keep air from outside from getting in.

  73. Some of the kids, boys and girls, in my son’s class ciuldn’t be trusted to make the journey down the hall in a timely, respectful manner. During class those would be escorted down, with the assistant waiting at the door. They could also through in some bathroom manners rules.

  74. I know it’s a tough situation, but I think your brother is right. If you fight all his battles for him, he will never learn to stand up for himself. By trying to protect him, you reinforce the position of power the bullies feel they are in when you are not there to look after him, and his feeling that he is unable to stand up to them. Give him the tools to fight his battles, but ultimately he is the only one who can fight them.

  75. Anonymous says:

    That’s insane. I’m sure under enough pressure they’ll figure out a way to have adults in there. Maybe two adults since often being alone with children in those situations lends itself to incrimination. That is sexual harassment and a form of violence. Perhaps contact GLSEN/PFLAG/ACLU?

  76. Ellen says:

    OMG I cannot believe this. You have gotten a lot of good advice. I just wanted to express how sad I feel for CJ and for you. This is just unacceptable. I agree with so many of the other responses. I think there should be an adult in the bathroom policing the facility. I think this would help tremendously. I can remember way back when I was in grammar school…the bathrooms were scary back then. Kids used to smoke in there and I was just plain scared. I think now it is even more so. There is no easy solution other than staffing the bathrooms. Also, if CJ could use the bathroom during class time that might help the immediate situation.

    IT seems that there are no easy situations for your family and I am so sorry for that. You always have to take those first steps to make an important change in the world and open people’s eyes. Love to CJ and strength to you…though you already have that!

  77. Ally says:

    I teared up the first time I read this but now I’m just mad. This is sexual harassment, pure and simple. Get the best lawyer money can find and the onus is on the school to come up with a solution to keep CJ free from harassment when he on school premises. How in the hell is a kid supposed to learn if all he can think about is how bad he has to pee? Make your voice heard and let them know yours is not just any voice, it’s the voice of a high profile advocate who is a published author who has articles published on CNN.com. I would let them know that they will feel the full weight of that if they don’t come up with a solution and one that CJ is comfortable with. They can build him his own private restroom if they have to. Oh ya, and let him paint it pink :-)

    • 'Angela' (John) says:

      A pink rest-room, just for CJ? Oh yes, I like that.

      But seriously, I think that it’s a bad idea to single CJ out for any special treatment, and for two reasons.

      Firstly, and most importantly, it avoids solving the basic problem, and I think that it’s crucial to bear that in mind. CJ IS NOT THE PROBLEM!!

      Secondly, no matter what the reason, CJ is likely to be seen to be getting preferential treatment, which is going to cause resentment among some, and probably provoke accusations of being a ‘teachers pet.’ That isn’t going to make things any better, it just presents a different problem for CJ to deal with.

      I imagine that CJ wants either to fit in, or to stand out for all the right reasons.

      Even if CJ’s problems are resolved, this ‘solution’ simply leaves the trouble-makers to shift their attentions to someone else, and that just isn’t good enough.

    • me says:

      Where is the money coming from to do this? I think it is amazing that the mum in this story is roleplaying with her son to help him cope. It is a horrible fact that in this world we will meet bullies, learning to cope with them is a sad neccesity. Maybe if the first response wasn’t legislation then we could model to all children, including the bullies, how we should interact and value each other.

      • shadowspring says:

        I don’t read this as the work of a bully. It is the result of a school culture that is turning decent kids into bullies. Behind this social value being taught- it’s the right thing to do to taunt the boy who likes pink-is a classroom culture that promotes it through tacit approval. I guarantee there is a classroom teacher who thinks that this is a good outcome, to teach this child to conform to traditional gender roles. She is allowing this to go on, with the unexpressed value that this boy needs to learn to conform. There is NO WAY this is happening in her classroom and she is unaware of it. This teacher and this administration is claiming helplessness because they actually support the actions of these children. Shame on them. Hold them accountable mom! This would not be happening in elementary school without the tacit approval of the adults in charge.

  78. I know where your son is coming from, and I know how awful it can be. I refused to use the bathrooms at my school up until I was 16. Even then I only used them because I knew I could access them when everyone else was in class. I would often hold my pee from 6:30am to 4:00pm when I got off the bus from school. As a gay student who blended in fairly well, I still got harassed in the bathroom, a lot of boys do. Learning to be comfortable enough to use a urinal can help. Boys who use the stalls are more likely to get bullied. I learned that from personal experience. When you use a stall it gives them the notion that you hiding something shameful. Talk to his teachers and see if you can workout a system by which he can covertly use the bathroom. Holding it all day can cause health issues, and avoiding drinking fluids all day can leave him dehydrated.

  79. sissygeek says:

    My small conservative hometown (in the ’70s!) wasn’t an easy place for a sissy boy to live unselfconsciously.

    In at least one way, though, I was fortunate. My elementary school had private, single-gender bathrooms: one inside every single classroom for kindergarten, first and second grade.

    It wasn’t necessary to avoid the bathroom until third grade onward. By which time, I’m guessing, my self and my body had grown enough so “holding it”—all day, if necessary—had become doable.

    Why necessary? Not so much because I had developed a reputation as a “sissy,” although I had. No, the boys’ bathroom was the domain of the worst bullies, where they could attack with greatest impunity. From first through tenth grade: always, I’d been the most vulnerable target.

    Despite having been a gender-fluid child only in a few subtle (and mostly private) ways? Already, I could have recounted so many unpleasant—even mortifying—memories of pressure to conform. And of taunting and bullying, on those occasions I’d failed: to simulate how a “regular boy” was supposed to move, run, throw a ball…what kind of things he could talk about, without generating school-wide buzz: “what a freak,” etc.

    Recently I went through old photos, deciding what I was willing to upload to FB. I began to see why few were ever fooled by my attempts to “be more like the other boys.” OK, I banished the more-feminine aspects of my body language almost entirely, before I began kindergarten. But even as late as age nine, I could see it in the way I posed: I’d wanted to feel “pretty.”

    At that age—when I was going to a new school in a new town—I’d committed my most grave gender infraction: I wore a girl’s shirt to school. Without knowing it.

    Being the “new kid” I was ignored: which could be lonely, but was often a relief. That Shirt was lavender. With a strip of orange across the chest, covered by three delicately embroidered appliqués. How could we not have known!?

    My mother tried to shield her most-sensitive son from ridicule: however nearly-impossible a task, in that era. Told me I had good color sense, so by the time I was six she began allowing me to choose my own clothes. Did she notice which section of the store That Shirt had come from? She may have. Mom was protective: but this didn’t mean she couldn’t be indulgent, also. I loved her for that.

    You don’t need me to tell you: C.J. is going through difficult times. I worry about him: and his brother, and his mom… Sounds silly, perhaps? But having read the blog, the book: it’s made me feel almost as if I were a friend of the family.

    Eventually, C.J’s classmates will find something else to gossip about. But it isn’t easy, waiting for the furor to pass. Even at (early) school age, bathroom topics can be endlessly fascinating.

    Another little story? (I do shift from one topic to another, don’t I.) In fourth grade we first began “dressing down” before gym class, and showering afterwards. Like many LGBTQ kids, the locker room was a place where I’d always felt somewhere between uneasy and terrified. During the first week, I “absent-mindedly” went into the showers still wearing my underwear.

    As I recall, now? I think it took a week for the entire fourth through sixth grade to find something else to make jokes about.

    That week felt l-o-n-g.

    Too much autobiography; not much advice. Apologies for that.

    However long it’s been since my struggles to “fit in” at school? Reading about C.J. always inspires and empowers. I never expected to see such progress within my lifetime.

    Which is not to imply C.J. has it “easier.” Hardly! You and he and rewriting the book. Balancing on the tightrope without a net below. (If you don’t mind a couple of mixed metaphors.)

    C.J.’s tenacity—your generosity, to share so much with so many—it’s stunning. You have my gratitude, and (always!) my attention.

    • sissygeek says:

      Oops: that should have read:
      “My elementary school had private, any-gender bathrooms…”

      • Deb Curnock says:

        I loved reading this. Reminds me that even in these liberated times it can mean so much to see and acknowledge someone’s need to ‘be pretty’. Just like I love having someone recognise my inner geek and tomboy, although I don’t always look very butch.

  80. 5affy says:

    That is horrible :( For different reasons I hated going to the at school because of the other kids – they used to let me go during lesson time so there weren’t any or at least very many other kids in there. But in the end I found using the teachers loo was the best solution – after a while it became normal that that was what I did.

    Best of luck – it sounds like a nasty stressful time you are going through and our thoughts are with you.

  81. Eimear says:

    This is so upsetting to read, I can’t imagine what you and CJ are going through. Kids are naturally curious about genitals, peeing and pooing but everyone has a right to privacy and to go to the toilet without being harassed. I hope the school find a solution before the situation gets any worse. You’re an amazing mum and I have so much respect for every new problem that you have to deal with. Keep blogging, make everyone aware of the issues that kids and adults like CJ shouldn’t have to face x

  82. Sam says:

    Poor sweet, little CJ. He does not deserve such horrid and deplorable treatment! No one deserves to be treated in such a manner. Elementary school bathrooms were just as awkward and scary when I was a kid. I hated going into the stalls. When you develop earlier, start wearing those horribly noisy female hygiene products, and are told you must be wearing diapers by your classmates you begin to avoid and dread those dank stalls. The curious states and incorrect assumptions spreading through the classroom is like acid. It leaves you with a painful burn in the center of your body. You feel the anger from being unfairly persecuted, the self-loathing for not trying harder to stand up for yourself/not being strong enough to make them stop, alienation as some foreign body who does not belong nor is wanted by the masses, and a multitude of other conflicting and damaging emotions. In my own case, it was not until I had grown up that I began to realize what I could do to handle the bullies. I still haven’t figured out how to manage the aggressive and impolite people of the world, and I think part of it has to do with the fact I never learned how to handle my childhood aggressors. I applaud you and cannot begin to tell you how much admiration I have for you and your family for helping CJ learn to face the bullies of the world. There will always be someone out there who is willing to bully and act out against others (although I will never stop believing I, and the rest of the people in the world, can help curb this trend through peaceful education and similar means) and kids need to learn what to do in those moments.

    I feel like the other posters are correct in the belief that putting CJ in a separate bathroom doesn’t fix the problem. Why should the victim have to alter his life around the bully? It is like the school forgot CJ is the innocent party here. His basic rights are being invaded and who knows if other kids are facing the same problems in these places. This is something that should concern anyone who wants a safe enviroment to learn in. If it takes time and extra money to fix this, then the school should go ahead and face the music. Maybe the teachers could implement a lesson in social etiquette and use stricter policies? As another poster described, use group trips to the restroom with a teacher posted outside the doors. If the kids don’t begin to behave more maturely, then possibly instill a one person at a time in the bathroom policy. It might take time, but the kids need to realize freedom to do certain things is only given to people who earned it. If they can’t be trusted to behave like mature boys and girls then they will have to follow stricter rules.

    You are a wonderful mother for fighting so very hard for your sons and the other children of the world. Remember to take a moment to take a deep breath and clear your mind. Even when the going seems tough and you don’t know what to do, you’ll always be on the right path with your loving and protective heart to guide you.

    Much love to you all and may your future be filled with brighter days.

  83. Katie Lamb says:

    Sadly this is something that CJ will have to get used to. We live in a very intolerant society & few protections are actually provided for our precious special children. My trans son was 12 (middle school) when he had his 1st truly traumatic encounter. After months of daily abuse the girls thought it would be fun to take photos of him over the bathroom stalls. When embarrassed & angry he told them that if they did it again he “would kill them” this was interpreted literally by staff & he was suspended for 3 weeks. The police came to our house & searched his bedroom for weapons! All they found was a bed full of teddy bears & comfort blankets. He had to enroll in a program for children with “social adjustment problems” with the Orange County police department. My child had no intentions of violence towards anyone else he just wanted to be left alone. Indeed like many kids who struggle with such personal issues they are much more likely to with draw & harm themselves than others. He was treated like a criminal & the staff at school provided him with no support at all. Sorry my story does not provide you with positive help or advice all you can do is love them all the more to make up for the evil that is out there.

  84. MM says:

    OMG Lori, I have not been reading here as often as before. I just saw this. Haven’t read all the comments yet. OMG. This is just THE WORST.
    I know this has got to be soooooo hard. So, first I send hugs.
    But right after that I am going to encourage action. Everything you can think of. Ask Uncle Uncle to come with you to visit the school. Ask Uncle Uncle’s partner to come with you to meet with the teachers. Ask grandma and grandpa (I’m having a brain-blank-out here, don’t even remember their right names) — anyway ask grandparents to call Lambda Legal and the ACLU. Call in all your favors. I don’t care who does which part, but get a team working on this. And tell them you need help too, that this is wearing your mind and soul out. That you want moral support, hand holding, ice cream and hugs.

    The talk you had with CJ is great. Keep at it. Can you schedule a couple of extra therapist visits. Ask the therapist if s/he will call the school. Ask therapist for additional ideas and resources. Call gender spectrum. Call all the parents of bullied kids you know. Ask them for ideas.

    Ask CJ where he would like to go to the bathroom — how can you make the nurses’ office bathroom a better alternative? Maybe you can’t but it is worth a try. How about if he had a pager that would call someone on the staff to walk there with him? (Technology makes many things possible). How about if he had an extra 20 minutes for lunch every day?

    Of course, the school, HAS TO address what is going on and get it to stop ASAP. But, until that happens, what about if CJ could have a recess break at a different time? Or if he could leave and go home for lunch every day? These are real possibiliities. Get an appointment with the principal right away. Spell it out. They must support you and CJ. This situation can be turned around, but in the meantime, do whatever you need to so that CJ is as okay as possible.

    Also: can you or CJ’s dad or Uncle Uncle volunteer at CJs classroom? Like right now?
    Call every mom in your gender creative playgroup.
    Have playdates every weekend.
    Yes, I know what I’m saying sounds totally exhausting.
    It is temporary. It will pass. You will help it pass.

    I’ve gotta run. I’m sending hugs to you and to CJ.

    • MM says:

      Okay, I’ve had a tiny bit of time to read all the comments and to cool down a tiny bit. I love that there are many different kinds of suggestions. I know that you will consider all options and try to find some that will help.

      Although I think many types of action can be taken, I think the best is for the school to realize (with your help and possibly the help of other parents and lawyers) that the situation is a problem for the boys in the school. Meaning not just for CJ, but a general problem which they want to correct. Having adults in the bathroom every day during breaks and also randomly seems a reasonable way to fix the situation. I mean I think it is likely to work. It doesn’t need to be “about CJ”, it is about making the boys restroom a safe place for all. Sure, it will cost money to have bathroom monitors. Well spent. And cheap compared to other possibilities. The school needs to get on this right away. Follow up actions to improve the overall culture, community, and school environment, sure, but directly addressing the bathroom situation first.

      I have clear memories of the times I was bullied. It was relatively mild, but I had no idea what to do, and it is so frightening.

      • MM says:

        Also talk to local PFLAG. Ask for specific help. If the school will allow some parents to be bathroom monitors, get PFLAG to make sign up sheets. I can only imagine the sisters of perpetual indulgence and the radical faireys showing up in force at CJs school. (If you don’t know who they are, google for photos of the sisters. Well known for their support of good works and charities.)

        Does the school have a PTA? Are there still parent volunteers like there were at CJs school last year? Yah, I know it is intimidating. Find allies.

        And let us know if we can help. Really.

  85. Sylvia says:

    This is so awful. Your son should not have to put up with that. Certainly something should and could be done to ensure his safety in the bathroom. It sounds to me like the authorities at your son’s school don’t really care and are shirking their responsibility. Have you ever thought of homeschooling?

  86. laurenv33 says:

    I would be upset also. It’s so sad the way children bully and make other children feel less than. I would definitely be contacting the school and threatening legal action or pressing charges against those boys.

  87. Jay Johnston says:

    I’ve taught in 2-3 different states. Sounds like the teachers don’t WANT to get involved, because afaik, it was never illegal for a female teacher to enter a boy’s room. There were times they’d go in and assist a disabled student to protect from bullies. They’d announce their presence and enter. Wtf, is wrong with that school? Also, is it possible for him to use a single stall bathroom like a staff bathroom or something? I know this isn’t a great solution, but still… Maybe your LGBT center would help here?

  88. Jack McLarty says:

    So sad for CJ, is there no way to arrange a “buddy” for the bathroom?
    If not, legal action or at least threat of would hopefully stop the problem, voyeurism is a sexual offence.

    Best of luck to you and CJ

  89. Kimberly says:

    First I call BS on the female teachers/admin can’t enter boys’ bathroom. I female and I step into the boys’ room a couple times a week to deal with minor things.

    1. The teach needs to take the kids on group bathroom breaks at at least stand at the door.
    2. Your lawyer needs to tell the administrator this stops yesterday – and if it is older boys (older than age of reason in California) they have 2 choices 1 – they suspend the boys 2 you press charges against the boys for peeking and the administrators for failure to protect/failure to report abuse.

  90. Rachael says:

    OH my god. I would be so livid. I am heartbroken for you! I am just so heartbroken for your son! I just have no words for this. This is why we need to teach our children about tolerance and being decent human beings to everyone and accepting differences. My heart goes out to you and your family and I hope things will get better!

  91. 'Angela (John) says:

    There have been so many sympathetic posts, and I understand the feeling that perhaps CJ should be allowed some wriggle room, in order to avoid the present uncomfortable situation.

    Unfortunately I don’t believe that’s the answer; it’s just a ‘sweep the problem under the carpet’ stop-gap. It effectively singles out CJ – AGAIN – and takes him away from the situation, when the proper solution is either to remove the offenders from the scene, or to cure the problem in some other fashion.

    Otherwise the original problem has not been resolved, and the offenders are left free to transfer their attentions to some other poor unfortunate.

    That simply won’t do!

  92. Sally Fung says:

    The school should have a responsibility, a duty of care, to your son. You could tell the Head Teacher that if the school does not address the institutional bullying of your son you could seek legal advice. By not dealing with the problem the school officials are condoning the behaviour of the children. It is appalling that a six year old should have to go through that. Not drinking is going to cause so many health problems so he really needs to drink. As for your mother’s Bible study group, how un-Christian can you be. They should be ashamed of themselves. Grown men and women acting like their children. No wonder the kids act like that when their parents do the same. Shameful. You and your son are very brave, being different is so hard. Love to you both. x

  93. Donna Angelo says:

    Instead of waiting for a break between classes, recess or lunch to use the boy’s room, he should ask for a Hall Pass and get permission to leave during class when the boy’s room is more likely to be empty.

  94. Guusje says:

    Does the school library have a bathroom? Many school libraries are the safe zone for the square pegs of this world – I know mine was! All the school nerds kept me company at lunch and hung out in the library as much as they could. I loved my square pegs, since I was one as a child.
    There is always a good reason to go to the library!

    And yes, the school bathroom is a hell hole. At one of my schools the library shared a wall with the library. When they noise penetrated the wall I went looking for the nearest male teacher I could get my hands on.

  95. I just read this to my 16 year old son and these are his suggestions. His first thought was that CJ was probably not far from the kindergarten classroom(s) with their single stall washrooms. Maybe that could be an option for this year.

    He also said that he really doesn’t like anyone looking at his privates either and found kids were a lot more curious about what happened in stalls. He suggested having CJ stand really close to the urinal so the sides block him and that maybe his Dad could show him how.

  96. Silversun says:

    They also make plastic shields that can be easily attached to restroom doors to cover the gap (you’d think they’d just make doors that close without gaps). See http://www.Theprivacycover.com and see if the school would install them in all restrooms for the comfort of all students. It doesn’t totally solve the problem but at least then, curious little boys would have to get on the floor to look under the door.

    I’m sure there is similar bullying in the girls’ restroom. There are bullies in every elementary school and restrooms are where they run wild. The school should have staff circulating through the restrooms just to keep an eye on things and and the message to the kids that bathrooms are not a free for all.

  97. eringirl99 says:

    Perhaps a squirt gun full of lemon juice, to spary into prying eyes, would send the little goons a message. Or an older kid hiding out in a neighboring stall to bust the monsters in the act. The school needs to adapt a zero-tolerance policy to bullying, and enforce it with strict consequences to offenders. Hugs to you and CJ.

  98. Kat says:

    I’m so sorry. The situation sounds just awful. No kid should have to make decisions like that.

  99. Lisa says:

    My heart ached for you and CJ as I read this post. Life can really suck! Can he ask to use the bathroom, say 10 minutes before recess and 10 minutes before lunch, so that he doesn’t have to go during the “rush hour” traffic? Bathrooms are notorious places for mayhem and trouble in elementary schools. CJ NEEDS to be able to use the restroom without concern for his privacy and safety. Yes, he needs to learn to stand up for himself, but he also deserves to feel safe and free to pee when he needs to.

  100. cminca says:

    I’m really sorry he had to go through this.

    As a gay man I have to tell you that your brother is right–CJ needs to know how to stand up for himself. And though I think you are a terrific mom I think it is time for either your husband, or your brother, or both, to step in and work with CJ. He’s being bullied by boys and he needs relate to them in a way that will make them back up and shut up.

    As a gay man who grew up liking girls things and art and didn’t like to get hit–I suddenly starting boxing (in my 50s) and love it. I’m not saying that CJ will–but he may enjoy marital arts (more than you think he would–cool outfit) and it might give him more confidence.

  101. Pamcakes says:

    Is it inappropriate to suggest teaching him to flip them off? Mostly kidding. I wish schools would do away with the stall bathroom style in it’s entirety and just have a bunch of single restrooms. Having no real reason to have these types of problems, I still found the bathroom experience intimidating, an easy place to be bullied, and one where people yes, would peak through the stalls because kids are weird sometimes. Even once threatened to be pushed into the boys room and told “your not going to like what happens in there”, where luckily a male friend came to my aid (which turned into a fight and a suspension for him). I can’t imagine being in his shoes, where they THINK they are going to see something odd and so he’s the constant target instead of the occasional one.

    And OK so they have a “female campus”. Do they have no male teachers who will volunteer to be an ally to students who need it, who during breaks/inbetween classes might be able to be called upon to walk into the bathroom for a minute? Or maybe male teachers taking turns randomly stopping in during breaks/recess in order to discourage the Lord of the Flies zone?

    I wouldn’t even encourage as an escort, but if the kid could request and teacher goes in there 30 seconds beforehand troublemakers would exit the space

    Why does it have to be the principal? I know the teacher can’t leave class while in session, but inbetween and on recess maybe?

  102. A.g. Flynn says:

    How in the HELL can a school district abdicate their responsibility for child safety by stating that there is a gender bias in how the LEADERS may access ANY room on their campus?
    What BS!!
    The captain of the ship can go anywhere anytime. Decorum has its place sure – but no holds barred for safety and civility on the campus.

    • SMiaVS says:

      Meanwhile, most mothers take their six year-old sons into the women’s restroom if they’re out in public. Yet somehow it’s not okay for an adult female administrator to enter the boys’ bathroom. This is such nonsense. I completely agree with you.

    • AMM says:

      How in the HELL can a school district abdicate their responsibility for child safety …?

      Happens all the time. Doing something is a lot of effort and might get them in trouble. Making excuses and doing nothing is the easier and safer option, because schools are essentially burorcracies, and in a burocracy, you can never get in trouble for doing nothing. My schools did nothing — I managed to stop my in-school harrassment by throwing a desk at my harrassers (_that_ they _did_ punish.) My kids were bullied in school, the school knew what was going on but did nothing. My older son (with ASD) was being taunted on the bus, and it was even on the security video from the bus, and they weren’t even willing to switch him to a different bus until we threatened to sue the school district. There may be schools that have the children’s best interests at heart, but I haven’t met any.

      A big part of it is that, in the world we live in, the sufferings of kids (or anybody without power) don’t count, unless they make heartbreaking fund-raising photos. You learn at a very young age that complaining about being hurt, especially emotionally, is “whining.”

      Parents often aren’t any better. My emotionally disturbed older brother terrorized and beat me up from when I was in about third grade until I was in tenth, when he went away to college. My parents knew all about it, but did nothing except occasionally suggest I “hit him back.” When the subject came up a few decades later, my mother just shrugged her shoulders and said she just didn’t know what to do about it.

  103. Danny White says:

    This one hits close to home. I went to private religious school until high school. In so many ways this was a great insulator as bullying was at a minimum since it was “Wrong” to be un-Christ-like. So for me, having to deal with Hell and Sin was so much easier than being bullied. However, I chose to go to public school for high school. The “education” was very different. Academically far superior with more options. Socially a complete minefield of highs and lows.
    I don’t remember more than a very days when I wasn’t taunted and teased. And I was absolutely petrified of the boys bathroom. I can count on ONE hand how many times I used the students bathroom. That’s five or less. I snuck (sneaked) into the teachers bathroom maybe 4 or 5 times. So in 4 years I may have used the bathroom 10 times. In four years.
    I have a fierce mother. And she and I are so close. But the boys bathroom is for boys. So I could never share this with her. Not, uUtil I was deep in my 40s. She would have probably whipped some bully’s butt, but that would have had even more repricusions.
    So if I may be so bold as to suggest: a boy needs a man to handle this. If Dad goes to school with CJ and simply goes with him to the boys room, one on one, to prove it’s only a room. It’s just that simple. It’s a room. It’s sort of like a creepy cellar. If a child is afraid of it, all the words in the world might not make it less scary. But if Daddy goes in the cellar and shows me that is ok, I’m more likely to go again.
    The staff at school will be less than helpful. It will only enhance the uniqueness of CJ. And that might eventually only draw more on-lookers. Btw, for me I was way into my 20s when I was finally able to be less bathroom shy. So get Dad to help nip this in the bud.
    You two are so amazing and the family unit is so strong. I delight in accompanying you on this journey.

  104. Christine says:

    Going to the bathroom has been a struggle for years for all children of every gender. My daughter was in high school and would not go to the restroom unless she had no choices, and then she would wait until the end of the day and use the restrooms closest to the band practice room where there was only one toilet, so no one else could be in the bathroom. It is ludicrous that these animals are never dealt with…Lord forbid that we should violate their rights to an education. Meanwhile, they make everyone elses life miserable.

  105. This brings me to tears, both as a Mom and as a girl who was oft mistaken for a boy and given just stares and looks in the bathroom, and once asked to “prove” I was a girl when walking home from school.
    I’m not sure which is tougher, CJ’s role or yours. Letting your kid go into the hands of institutions is extremely taxing to a Mom who cares as much as you do.
    Parenting is a letting go process. Do what you can to communicate with the school, and rest assured that CJ is a whole person, with an inner being that will make all of this good in due time, in some way.
    I keep on my kids to not stand idly by with silence, when they see this behavior occurring. With parents like you using your voice to fight stigmas and for respect for differences, more and more parents and kids will find their voice and add it to yours…and the world is becoming a better place.

    • Lynda Otvos says:

      Me too, mistaken for a boy and hassled for it. Broad shoulders, long legs, short curly hair and boy-like clothes made school hell even with an older bother just one year ahead to help me fend off the worst of it. The only thing that stopped it was graduating but it played heavily in no further education which is a crying shame now that I am over 50 and relatively uneducated on paper.

      I shared CJ’s problem with my husband and his response was that there is no solution; “been there, done that” he said. I can only hope with all my being that he is wrong in this case and you ARE able to institute some solutions. Bladder and kidneys do not like being treated this way and will eventually proclaim it loudly and strongly with disease and pain. Let us band together and figure this out sooner than later – for CJ and all the other little ones who identify differently.

  106. SJ says:

    Reading this article brought back a lot of memories for me. Many years ago, I was a teacher at an inner-city HS in NYC. Even though our union contract did not condone it, the new teachers all had to take turns being “bathroom monitors”. It was the worst job in the world. First of all, violence and drug deals were the norm in the bathrooms. Nobody of either gender, wanted to go into the bathrooms Next, how many jobs out there ask someone with an MA or PhD to be a bathroom monitor? There should be gender-neutral bathrooms in all schools. In fact, (don’t laugh) “Glee”covered this story last week because one of the members of the club is transgender.
    Please believe me when I say that it is imperative for all students and employees to feel safe in school. Unfortunately, it takes training, peoplepower and money which most schools don’t have and won’t spend if they are not forced to do so. In my opinion, the best course would be to contact a law firm and force the school to act. Also, there are several non-profit groups which specialize in “anti-bullying” coursework for student and teachers. Finally, talk to the teacher to see if there is a teacher’s bathroom on the floor. I’m sure CJ is not the only student who has a problem with big bathrooms. Good luck.

  107. Steve says:

    I feel for you and CJ. This is abuse, but it is typical of young males who don’t know better. How would CJ feel about wearing a Poise Pad just in case? It might save him embarassment if he should wet again.

  108. rbjk13 says:

    When I started reading your blog a couple if years ago it was mostly out of interest and curiosity as how the pulse of our country is. It changes very slowly but that it changes is the good part. I am 53 the mother of two boys neither if which had any gender issues. One is probably homophobic but his best friend from the time he was 1 was gay. I am now divorced and have found myself going to the gay bars and dating cross dressers who prefer women but are usually bisexual. I have no qualms being seen with these men even kissing in public. I love the drag queens as well and yes there is a difference. I find your blog very comforting as being an outsider I can see you are making progress in a world of people who are scared because of what they don’t understand or know. Information and knowledge are power and you are doing a fantastic job!!! Keep it up.

  109. yasmara says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, but I just wanted to chime in & say #1 that I’m so sorry this is happening to your son and #2 that bathrooms seem to be a universal problem for younger boys, so he’s not alone. My son is in 1st grade & his best friend is being teased a lot in the boys’ bathroom, mostly by 2nd grade boys. Their teacher has been proactive about addressing it, but it’s a similar situation with no superivsion & no female teachers/administrators allowed in the boys’ bathroom. Personally, I would LOVE for there to be an adult (male OR female) “bathroom monitor” because it is total chaos in there. I’ve been coaching my son to stand up for his friend against the bullies, but it’s so hard at that age, especially when older boys are the perpetrators. They do have a bathroom pass program in my son’s classroom & I’ve encouraged him to use the pass at “off” times to avoid the chaos. I miss the days of the in-room bathroom in kindergarten!

  110. EF says:

    I’m 25, and gender-ambiguous at best. But I was born with female parts and am happily engaged to a boy (who knows and helps me with gender struggles), so female restrooms it is.

    In the USA, I have an AWFUL time about it. I can usually be found wearing typical hipster fashion, and most people don’t know whether to call me ‘miss’ or ‘mr’ right off the bat. When I go out drinking with friends, it’s awful when it comes time to go to the bathroom, because I know about the looks I’ll get. It’s really common for me to be washing my hands, have some woman in a short skirt walk in, walk out to check the stick figure on the door, and then glare at me until I leave. some version of that has happened more times than I can recall.
    In Boston, where I’m from, I got used to going to the same dive bar that my best friends and I loved, and bless them for having gender-neutral bathrooms. 2 stalls, 1 room, no figure on the door. It made life SO MUCH EASIER.

    I live in the UK now, and have mostly for the past few years. I have less trouble here, as I think people are slightly less insistent about gender roles, or at least looking one assigned gender or another. I’ve only had a restroom run be a problem once the whole time I’ve been here, which isn’t bad.

    I couldn’t tell you what school was like other than awful. I’ve blocked a lot of it from my mind. But I was also in catholic school for the most part, which, while a great academic environment, is a certain type of hell for the gender non-conforming kid.

  111. Jarvis says:

    I’m 25, and this is reminding me what it was like in grade school.

    I would not go to the bathroom during breaks, and when I needed to go teachers would scold me for not going at break. I was that little boy who held it for eight hours five days a week. I’ve damaged my bladder from that stress. I didn’t go at school because I was expected to use the girls room. It wasn’t terrible in elementary grades for anyone but me, but in middle school girls would try to kick in the stall doors to see me. Adults would do nothing about it, and it was awful because my parents didn’t get what was happening.

    I wish my parents had told my teachers to let me go when others were in class for my own safety and comfort. Can you talk to CJs teacher about this? Maybe CJ can keep a change of clothes at school as well in case of something happening.

    Let him know that he has the right to go wherever he wants to be and nobody is allowed to make him feel unsafe or bad about being there. Heck, I’d arm him with a Fox40 whistle to blow when anyone tries to look at him going to the bathroom. A pink one naturally.

  112. elzarcothepale says:

    When I was younger, my only persecution handle, or weak spot was that I was nerdy, in style and habit. I mention it because I know 99% of kids have it much, much worse. Even better, I was well on my way to a rock solid ego- mocking and teasing were just weather to dress for.
    I’m commenting because even with all that going for me, the bathroom and later on, the locker room was still a place of danger and insecurity.
    I remember once in middle school gym class, another boy caught me trying to change in the bathroom stall. He called out in laughter and mocked me, saying: “Do you realize that this literally means you’re a queer?!”
    I mumbled my way through the incident, and got over my nervousness changing in a group after a few days.
    I know that standing up for yourself is important, and kids in C.J.’s shoes shouldn’t have to feel persecuted, but sometimes standing up for yourself is better done by brushing the teasing off rather than challenging it. By saying: “Pfft. Whatever.” Instead of “Stop that, I don’t like it.”
    Maybe that’s a tool for slightly older kids to use. I was in third grade when I started growing that skin, I guess. I dunno.
    The Lord of the Flies is always going to rule small gangs of immature boys because insecurity can only be beaten with time and nurturing.

  113. Julie Saeed says:

    Ok, this is causing flashbacks.
    I am a straight adult female and had the same issue when I was in school. Kids start out ‘curious’ but they continue because they like the reaction, the tears, the yelling, and the sudden control it gives them over your actions. They like being able to make someone feel bad or wet themselves. It is pure bullying.
    My mom contacted the school and they had a teacher go in with me. When the teacher got tired of it after the second time, that moved into other kids being done first then me going in by myself. When they made excuses and were allowed to go in anyways (or hide in stalls) it became ‘discussions’ with the class about not behaving that way when someone is in the bathroom. In the end the kids FOUND a way around it because really it is even more of a want when you are told you not to do it.
    School nurses bathroom was a lifesaver, unless they have a handicapped bathroom or ‘adult’ bathroom with a single stall and a door that locks.
    Unfortunately it doesnt take much for kids to be idiots. All it took in MY case was me being shy and reserved and not wanting random kids spying on me for no reason.
    The fact that I still remember it all so well at age 44 is not a good thing :p The school needs to step up, It isn’t ok.
    As a quiet sidenote…my son eventually had the same issue. I let him use a thin pad (period pad) in his underwear in case he had to told it and urine leaked/dropped/poured. It worked wonders for his self-esteem because he knew that if it happened, he mostly had it covered. he even had a spare hidden in the bottom of his school backpack in case needed.

    ~Julie

  114. tru says:

    I’m appalled. You and I could be neighbors for all I know and it breaks my heart that your child is facing such awfulness. Please feel free to contact me if you need community support.

  115. Dawn Briscoe says:

    I can’t believe that in 2013 this bathroom stuff is even an issue. School bathrooms are not safe for anyone ~ I’m not sure you’ll find too many people (no matter what label you put on them) that will say “I loved communal restrooms!”. I was so glad to have read “Raising My Rainbow” before a trip to S CA. I was approached by a man outside of a WalMart to sign a petition (I’m from Illinois so it pleased me that I was wasting his time) because “with the new law a boy can go into a girls locker room”. Thankfully I was ready to do battle. I’m sure it didn’t change the man’s opinion at all, but hopefully made anyone listening to the argument think about it a little deeper than “boys going into girls locker rooms”. ALL people should be able to use a restroom/shower privately, with a door shut and locked if they prefer it.

  116. Jennifer says:

    Hugs for all of you. I was severely bullied growing up and I know the terror of needing to use the bathroom and fearing what lies in wait there.

    Is there any way that CJ can get a permanent “bathroom pass” — in other words, be allowed to excuse himself to the restroom whenever he likes? I’ve seen it done for children with medical situations, and if CJ is holding his urine all day every day, this will turn into one too. :(

    Whatever the solution is, I hope it comes to fruition quickly. Stay strong!

  117. Kate R. says:

    I was also going to suggest a friend/ally as a bathroom buddy. Or, if CJ’s brother is in the same school (or another, older ally), maybe you could figure out a predetermined time for them to “meet” in the bathroom, (with the help of their teachers, if necessary).
    I am so sorry CJ has to go through this and my heart breaks for him. I agree with everything that has been said above, especially that the school needs to intervene NOW. Big hugs to all of you.

  118. Mousme says:

    Like pretty much everyone else here this post broke my heart too. There’s been a lot of good feedback already (especially the idea of having a bathroom monitor, since it should be the school’s responsibility to give CJ a safe space and not stigmatise him further), but of course it will all depend on your individual situation and the solutions you come up with as a family and with the school. I have no doubt that you’ll find a way, since you and your husband are CJ’s biggest advocates.

    I was similarly bullied at school (though not because I was gender-nonconforming), and the locker rooms and bathrooms weren’t generally a safe place for me. I was very lucky that we had two unisex single-toilet bathrooms available, so I used to ask to be excused during class when we were doing quiet work at our desks (worksheets and what have you) to go use the bathroom and would use the unisex ones with the door firmly locked (I still have a ~thing~ about making sure bathroom doors are locked to this day, even when I’m alone). Recess and lunchtime were not a good time to go, because that’s when all the bullies and the kids who hang around the bullies lie in wait.

    I hope things get better really soon for you all.

  119. whatyouwant says:

    It is totally crazy that a woman “can’t” enter a male restroom! Huh???? What if someone were actually sick or injured inside? I can possibly see the reason for needing a chaperone, but even that is a little bit off. I’d be willing to bet that most, if not all of these women are mothers. How would they feel if it were their child?

    When my son went to college and was living in a dorm, there was a list of rules placed outside the restroom. The first one is that you mind your own business and don’t look at other guys’ crotches (OK, I’m paraphrasing…).

    Seriously, there has to be a way to fix this situation. And I’m guessing C.J. isn’t the only one to have gone through this…

  120. Shannon says:

    I’m so sorry this is happening. I can only imagine how much it must hurt your heart to see him dealing with this. I truly hope things will improve and wish you strength as you fight for CJ. He deserves better and you are such a good, fierce mama.

  121. Coming East says:

    Love Danielle’s suggestion as well as many of the others. I agree that CJ has a bumpy road ahead of him, and he will have to learn to stick up for himself, but at his tender age, that is so much to ask. One if the keys to bullying is to get bystanders involved in speaking out to the bullies instead of keeping silent. That school has the perfect opportunity to do some sensitivity and anti-bullying training. CJ shouldn’t have to feel that it is him against the world, and right now the school is a huge part of his world.

  122. teafortwoorten says:

    Having other boys peek in on you as you are using the bathroom is sexual harassment and bullying and the school is liable. It doesn’t matter how you dress or what colors you prefer. The school can not allow sexual harassment on their property. Perhaps having a male teacher in the bathroom would be an effective remedy but one thing is certain they do need to remedy it right away. cJ should not have to use another bathroom as the remedy as he is not the problem. The peeping boys are the problem. We had a similar problem in middle school in the locker rooms. After our lawyer wrote a letter to the school, the school has a locker room monitor stationed in the locker room and viola no more problems. We had parents of “straight” boys thank us for making their kids feel safer. It’s not just CJ you are helping it’s all children who deserve school to be a safe environment! Do not let the school get away with allowing a harassing environment in their property! That said it is also great that you are teaching him to speak up for himself to the boys!

    • Lisa W. says:

      I second this suggestion! While CJ does need to stand up for himself–my God–he’s 6 years old and in first grade! The kid should be able to pee without harassment. The school is responsible for providing a safe environment for him, and they need to address this issue PRONTO–with the other kids, who are the ones creating the problem. My heart goes out to your little guy.

      • Lisa W. says:

        Also, I just want to say… I think he’s already doing a tremendous job standing up for himself. And you’re an awesome mom for giving him space to be who he is. I’m a 40-something woman who grew up to be gay… When I started expressing an opinion about my clothing, I didn’t want to wear dresses or those damn Mary Jane shoes my mother kept me in til I was 12.

    • MM says:

      Great story about the lockers. Great example. I’m sure the school district can find a way if there are real legal consequences spelled out.

  123. Dearest One, whose reward shall be great and from the Hand of the Lady Grace Herself (my pet name for the Holy Spirit) and the Good Shepherd…

    I pray for you every single day and ask my God to encourage and strengthen you, for you are so crucial and important in the life of your beautiful and precious child…but also important in the lives of other people…like me…who lived thru stuff like this but without anyone at all…whose mom was not there like you are, but instead was afraid, blustery, and very free with spankings as she believed that it was good for me to be punished for what she thought was bad and evil behavior…all it did was taught me to hide carefully.

    Oh the pain and agony that you must feel, and that your precious child feels. While I am not feeling yours, I truly recall and still ache with what I endured, and endure.

    But I know for a fact that what people report to you about God not loving, approving, or supporting you or your child is all lies, and the people who believe that are taking the Lord’s Name in Vain. The Lord loves everyone, and calls as His own everyone who calls on His Name and trusts in Him for help, and HELP He will…THEY WILL.

    Proverbs 9-12 I believe…the Holy Spirit speaks for herself and it is clear that God, who transcends male and female but created us thus, in His/Her Image, has expressed Them self to us as a Father, as a Brother/Saviour, and as a Mother/Woman.

    I tell you in the Name of Jesus that you are God’s love to your child, and to me, with your example of unconditional love, and your heart to serve and protect your amazing child. Your words encourage me, inspire me, give me hope, and strength to go on each time you write.

    Bless you, and please, when it is tough, know that I am praying for you, with you, every time that I think of you.

    I chose my name for a reason, Charissa means Grace, and Grace means Grace, which in its most literal translation means Power to overcome. Grace to you upon Grace. And my birth name means Herald of the king, and my middle name means bought with a price, and my last name means purity.

    Over my 5 plus decades, I have walked with God closely and intimately, and if the churches I have been in and out of knew about me they would have gone “Villagers in Frankenstein” on me as if I was the monster. But God Themselves has been constant and good, and a very present help always…my whole life. They are faithful…and I share that with you so you will know that when I tell you of their love for you and attention to you and their special focus on choosing YOU to be your miracle’s mother, that you would know it is due to their esteem for you and confidence in you to accurately represent them to your baby, and to your audience.

    Just be yourself, and let that huge and bleeding heart of love and loyalty SHINE!

    LOVE LOVE LOVE…….
    Love you, your sister in Christ, and your brother in grief,
    Charissa Grace

  124. Kelly says:

    As a female teacher on a mostly female middle school campus, you learn ways to handle these issues. Your administration could be doing more. In middle school, it becomes fights in the bathrooms, and if sneaky kids can pull one over on their teachers, much worse things when they are able to meet up together during class. Regardless of the law, I can’t tell you how quickly kids come scurrying out of there when they hear me standing at the door using my loud teacher voice: “You have until I count to three to get out of there because I AM COMING IN!” I always warn them, and they always listen and stop whatever they had been doing. Your authority figures at school need to be exactly that…authority. Aside from all that, his teacher needs to let him use the restroom during class time. I’m sure she’d much rather deal with an interruption once a day than have to deal with the heartbreak of watching one of her students have to deal with this kind of stress and terror at the tender age of 6 (at least, since she’s a first grade teacher, I certainly hope she would. Otherwise, she’s in the wrong profession). Good luck.

  125. May says:

    I spent a very long time being completely perplexed by the amount of “the other kids will see trans children’s genitals!” arguments I’ve seen in this sort of context, until someone finally told me that in the USA, there are gaps around the doors of toilet stalls. This makes absolutely no sense to me. I’m so sorry that CJ is having to deal with this sort of idiocy and that the school doesn’t seem to have woken up to its responsibilities.

    • MM says:

      I have lived my whole life in the US. When I visited Amsterdam and London, I took photos of the bathrooms so I could show people here. It’s lovely, all the stalls are very much more private. There are no gaps, and usually the doors are floor to ceiling,as well. May, ours not only have gaps, but the doors don’t go down to the floor. S people can look under, or crawl under. That is highly unusual behavior of course, but it is physically possible, especially for little kids.

      • May says:

        Which of course makes it abundantly clear that all the handwringing about “what if the other children see the unexpected genitalia?” is just a front for transphobia, since it would be a lot easier to just make better doors and let the children use the bathroom of their choice in peace.

  126. Isabelle says:

    Hugs to all of you. Lots of great suggestions in these comments. It is so heartbreakingly awful that schools don’t deal with this sort of teasing/ostracism effectively. It is not fair that CJ has to cope with this while trying to learn all the fundamental academic stuff of first grade. I hope you and the school can come up with a creative and effective solution for the bathroom but even more so that the school can get serious about creating a safer more respectful environment. They lay the groundwork now both in terms of school culture and in terms of individual students’ social skills for the types of bullying that will happen in later elementary/middle school years.

  127. Cris says:

    This breaks my heart. Perhaps he could make the trek to the nurse’s station during lunch?

  128. Iwona says:

    Even if this is a female campus those boys should be taught a lesson. They should know how to behave. Their parents should be notified. And your borother is right. Some people are aweful and we have to stand against them. Or ignore them. But trying not to be a victim But at school they should be taught how to behave. I don’t like the solution of the principal. They should address this issue. By giving your son this isolated bathroom they make him an exception not a norm. And he is a student. A norm. He needs to be safe in student bathroom.
    Hugs!

  129. Diane says:

    I’m appalled that the school seems to think “we only have female authority figures and they aren’t allowed in the boys’ room” is an acceptable way to shrug this off. The most obvious response is they need to hire someone male whose duties include acting as bathroom monitor, like we used to have when I was in grade school. As I was also in a “female campus” (largely nuns), I believe it was the janitor back then.

    Yes, teaching your son how to respond is one piece of the puzzle, but it is only one. Why aren’t the other kids being taught that their behavior is unacceptable? Why is the school willing to turn a blind eye to this behavior, their only solution being to offer your son another stigmatizing option that requires him to trek across a large building with a full little bladder?

  130. ravinj says:

    You’ve gotten a lot of good advice. I just wanted to add another encouragement. Hang in there.

  131. Amy says:

    As a school principal I am ashamed that this would go on in an elementary school or any school without administration doing something. Thank you for sharing…..also reading your book now. You and your family are amazing.

  132. pinkagendist says:

    Dearest Lori,
    I can’t emphasize enough how right your brother is. The world is an imperfect place; One in which some of us have no choice but to become as tough as nails. Gay boys have had to endure this sort of harassment since time immemorial, and the bathroom is just the beginning. Next come the questions. Then comes puberty and the locker room and a whole new range of challenges. Testosterone, aggression and a child’s first real encounter with the establishment of social hierarchy. I know it seems daunting, but you’re intelligent enough to help him through. There’s not going to be a free pass. You just have to accept it’s a very bumpy road and find the best way to navigate it.

  133. First off, the lack of a gender neutral or single stall bathroom is crappy. My son’s school has a bathroom in the 1st grade classroom, and for that I’m even more thankful after reading this post. But since gender neutral bathrooms can’t be built overnight, can I offer a temporary fix? Since CJ seems ok using the nurse’s bathroom but feels like he needs a “reason” to be up there, I’d get the teacher on board, and have her ready with “tasks” that CJ needs to run to the front office for. If the teacher is on board, she can easily give CJ something to “do” that will conveniently place him near the nurse’s office bathroom. It’s a temporary fix, but at least he won’t have to hold his pee. :(

    • Carrie says:

      Great idea!

      • Lisa W. says:

        Brilliant!

      • MM says:

        Yes. Role play with CJ and the school to find the most acceptable reasons for CJ to need to go to the office. If possible something special that other kids really can’t imagine making fun of. I’m too far from that world to know what that might be. Maybe some medical thing? Helping the principal? Working with a tutor?

  134. 'Angela (John) says:

    I can remember back to my earliest school days (and that’s a LONG time ago) that the boys toilets were always a miniature ‘no-go’ area. All sorts of assaults were common, including out and out fights, and it wasn’t unusual to see young children smoking in there during break periods too.

    That nothing has changed in all those years is disgraceful, and CJ’s school should be left in no doubt of that. They have a responsibility to ensure that ALL parts of their school – no exceptions – are safe for the children in their care. It doesn’t matter how they do it, whether it’s having a male teacher in there during breaks, or having the older and more senior students policing the youngsters perhaps, but they cannot simply sit back and ignore the problem. It will not just go away!

    I also believe that direct action should be taken against the children causing CJ anxiety, although I’ll admit that actually identifying these children may be a problem, but it’s one that the school has to address. Having identified them, their parents should also be spoken to, and ultimately it may be necessary to exclude persistent offenders from the school. Firm and positive action is essential, and it will work.

    There have been some suggestions as to what CJ can do for himself as well, and having positive strategies in place is sound advice. Sometimes something really direct, such as a full-frontal display and the question “Satisfied now?!” can be very effective in dispelling any perceived mystery, and thus removing any excuse for prurient interest. It strikes me that CJ has the balls (!) to carry it off.

    But there’s one clear lesson to learn from all this, and one that it took me years to accept; you can only be bullied if you allow it to happen.

    • A.g. Flynn says:

      “you can only be bullied if you allow it to happen”
      Surely this is not what you really believe?
      Rat finks are just that: Rat Finks. They attack verbally, psychologically and physically.
      A statement like this is similar to placing blame for assault on a victim’s choice of clothing.
      Suggesting that CJ abandon his good manners and expose himself is beyond ludicrous. It would place him in a position of being a harrasser, or worse being labeled “deviant.”

      >”you can only be bullied if you allow it to happen”<
      PLEASE rethink it before you repeat it.

      • 'Angela (John) says:

        You’re quick to criticise my opinions, but you haven’t offered any alternative solutions.

        I maintain that bullying only stops when someone – generally the victim – does something about it, and I maintain that view because I was bullied, until I did something about it.

        CJ has done something similar, by telling Lori what has been happening. He, the victim, has taken steps to stop the bullying. Would it have stopped (or been stopped) if he had remained silent??

      • A.g. Flynn says:

        Hmmm -‘quick’ –
        Well – yes I was quick to note that bullying occurs whether one stands up to the miscreants or not. It happens if the victim stands up. It often gets worse if another person – like a teacher or parent momentarily steps in.
        It often then continues to happen meaner and harder and more covertly, as some of the posters here have noted.
        Suggesting that a young person who has manners and self-discipline expose himself or try to face down a group of charged up finks is a poorer alternative than offering “nothing” as you so aptly point out about my request that you rethink your statement.
        I still believe that the flat statement – that a victim ‘allows’ bullying – is of the same stripe as all statements that victim blame. (Wearing provocative clothing is what precipitates rape., etc.)
        Frankly, after reading your post my thoughts turned to Matthew Shepard.
        Did he “allow” the bullying and torture that lead to his death?
        Next I remembered Harris and Klebold – each was sick of bullying.Their story ended much differently.
        The ultimate responsibility lies with the parents and teachers in this case. If they do not lead with honor and forcefully squelch the bad behavior of the bullies more than bathroom practices will be on the line.

      • MM says:

        I don’t think this is a black and white sort of thing. Any approach is okay. The school should take actions, and so can CJ.

        I was considering some related kinds of tactics. I’m thinking of having all the queer support groups in the region send male volunteers to use the bathroom at CJs school. First, this means a lot of older youth and adult men would be in the bathroom at unpredictable times. Second, lots of differently presenting guys will be on the school grounds. Third, some of the men may be willing to talk to the boys who are peeping, in various ways and tones.. I’m not sure what the most effective direction is, but I am willing to consider any possibility.

  135. Nancy says:

    Absolutely heartbreaking. I don’t want CJ. To be toughened up! I think later in life is fine to learn how to handle bullies. Not at six! I would not want my six year old in a place where his bodily needs cannot be met. This is atrocious. Either they find a way to make it safe and easy for your son to go to the bathroom, or I’d contact an attorney. I might know a real tough attorney with great experience fighting SoCal school districts. You say his name and the district quakes. I do like that suggestion of having his teacher let him be excused during class time to go. If he goes 2 x a day during class, he might not need to go at other times during the school day. He needs to be able to drink and pee, or else he needs to be homeschooled. Period.

  136. This is for CJ:
    I am 49 years old and I’m a man. I wear dresses. I like the color orange and I wear it almost every time I wear a dress. When I wear dresses, I help people feel good about themselves, I raise money for charities and I make people laugh.

    I peed my pants in first and second grades and at summer camp, a bunch of times. I felt so embarrassed even raising my hand to ask to go to the bathroom. I felt like everyone was staring at me. I thought it was easier to just sit there. Then it happened.

    I hated it. But I’m OK. I don’t know what I could have done differently. I was scared. It happened. But I”m OK. I grew up really very smart, very creative, very happy, and like I said, I wear a LOT of really FANTASTIC outfits and pointy shiny shoes and a ton of glitter and I even glue jewels to my make up! We are pretty special people, people like me and like CJ. We can deal with the icky times when things like peeing ourselves happen. it’s unpleasant but we will make it just fine in the end.

    Sometimes the world is open and free for us. Sometimes we have to make it open and free. And sometimes it just sucks for a bit. People can be so weird, even awful. But that doesn’t mean we have to feel bad for very long. Because we always have our dresses to put on! and our magic to make! and a LOT of people out there need us to be special like we are. So that’s what I remember and I go do.

  137. Kate says:

    That’s awful. All over that’s horrifying. I am especially appalled at that adults behaviour at your Mum’s bible study. Obviously taking gossip being spread by children on the playground and taking it upon themselves to spread it around the adults aswell. Please tell your son that I feel for him.

  138. No child should have to feel afraid in a school bathroom, period. In my opinion, this is less about CJ in particular and more about a failing of the school’s administrators to prevent bullying in the first place. I’d venture a guess that there are other children at CJ’s school who suffer similar anxiety because of bathroom bullying. While children do need to learn to stand up for themselves, teaching them those skills must be done in conjunction with responsible adults monitoring the situation. My heart breaks for you as a parent and CJ as a child. When I was a substitute teacher, I had no problem standing outside the door of the boys’ or girls’ bathroom and making my presence known so that the children behaved respectfully. I think that should be standard practice, especially to ensure the younger children feel comfortable while they are learning the skills to stand up to bullying. I hope CJ’s school administrators will take this bullying situation seriously and stop it AT THE SOURCE, which is in the bathrooms that all the boys use. It is nice of them to offer an alternative bathroom for CJ to use, but that really does not solve the issue of bullying.

  139. Reuben Garza says:

    First let me say I am sorry you and your son (your family) are going through this. I know what it is like to be different than most and trust me when I say, “being in that kind of situation and environment us not codusive to learning.” Chances are his bladder is not the only thing that will suffer long term effects if this situation doesn’t stop soon, especially at this critical stage of learning to trust his immediate environment and the adults in his immediate environment which will ultimately fuse his neural pathways and how he views the world around him/her. Since the school he attends has only female students he will probably be singled out by the bullies again, just by having to use the teachers bathroom, so this solution only seems to put a bandaide on a much bigger problem. He’s is different. So what. Telling him and showing him that he is worthy of equal treatment is something else entirely different. Since you have already reported this to the school… since your son seems to be the only child who made a modification to his natural activities then the school itself is setting the standard of education and scholatic practices and therefor equally accountable for the culture it breeds… Remember we all eventually grow up to become something and that is usually a learned behavior. The school can easily fix these kind of situations in the future by hiring male teachers. I must say that It is rather odd that only female teachers are employed there. By the way, if you are looking for more ways to combat bullying visit http://www.stopbullying.gov.

  140. I’m in the middle of reading your book (it’s AMAZING and so is CJ!!). This breaks my heart into so many pieces. I wish my son could be your son’s friend IRL. He’s older but he would defend him even if it came to blows. Thanks to moms like you who are brave enough to talk about your unique son, I’ve been talking to my 11yo so that he can be empathetic and an ally. (After all I’m bisexual so he and my college age daughter are LGBTQ supporters)

    I do agree that teaching him to advocate for himself is a good idea. My son has anxiety and has been afraid to talk to his teachers for years–now he’s better and he feels so proud of himself for dealing with things on his own (of course we step in if needed).

    His elementary school had individual bathrooms–gender neutral. I would hate to suggest using the handicapped bathroom (if the school has one–like for wheelchairs) because again you do not want to convey there is something wrong with HIM. But at least it would offer him the privacy he deserves.

    What pervy kids. Their parents should be ashamed of raising such creeps. Your child deserves to go to school and FEEL SAFE (I’m a part of an anti-bully non-profit).

    I’m so sorry. But tell CJ he has another fan who will fight for his rights and thinks he is awesome and wonderful. I think you are wonderful parents and he is blessed that you love him unconditionally–just as any parent should.
    xoxoxo
    Krista from FL

  141. Momonator says:

    If you have his teacher’s support, see if she will agree to release him during class time to go to the restroom. The boys bathroom is filled at recess and lunch, but empty during class. If his teacher is sly, the class won’t even know he’s getting special treatment when he/she excuses him (like ” yes cj you may be excused, no sorry bob, let’s wait til recess since it’s almost time”).
    If all else fails, my older son has provided some bathroom quips for him to try with the peeking bullies:
    -“too bad you don’t have your own to look at, they’re quite useful”
    – “does your mom know you like to watch people go pee?”
    -“you don’t have to watch to learn, with a little practice you won’t need a diaper anymore”
    -“jealous?”
    -“have you heard of that creepy kid that watches people pee? oh wait-that’s you”

  142. Lyss says:

    I understand the legalities but let’s bend the law a bit. What if a disobedient child hides in that bathroom? Only a male personnel is allowed to retrieve him? Let’s go further, what if you have three boys in one stall, stuffing toilet paper in the toilet? Are you supposed to just let them finish their business? I am an assistant for a HeadStart classroom and I monitor my male students in the bathroom the best I can. The way the bathroom is set up, however, I don’t have clear view of the urinals unless I turn a corner. They are obscured from view. But I can definitely see all 3 of the stalls and sinks from the doorway. I don’t know how your son’s class is set up, but if the teacher has an assistant, perhaps CJ could ask them to escort him to the bathroom and see if there are any potential “big kids” in there who could do him harm. Boys are often quicker to use the restroom, I’ve learned. If they’re hanging around in there it’s definitely for the wrong reasons. These teachers should monitor their kids better at bathroom breaks and set better behavior expectations INSIDE and OUTSIDE the classroom.

  143. Elizabeth Fisher says:

    I was bullied as a child because I was fat. I wish a wise adult would have talked to me about how to handle bullies. I’ve learned as an adult that they’re cowards, and if you stand up to them they back away and leave you alone. This is a tough lesson for him to have to learn at such a young age, but if he doesn’t learn it now, he’ll spend the rest of his life struggling with bullies. Your son has such personality and life in him, surely he could learn a few really mean “back off” stares to throw at the bullies. I sure wish I could go back and do it all over again. My biggest tactic around bullies to this day is to be sure I catch their eye before they say the first thing. Sometimes just acknowledging them, looking them right in the eye and saying hello catches them off guard and stops whatever they were going to do.

  144. MB says:

    I had to hold back tears. Hugs for CJ.

  145. TaraLee says:

    Your post left me in tears for your dear boy. It strikes me as awful that in this day and age, a child doesn’t feel comfortable in school, especially in Grade 1. This awful situation must mar his entire experience with school. Although I agree with the above post that his abusers need to be taught not to abuse, but I also agree that he needs to be able to stand up for himself, for his self esteem more than anything else. To feel comfortable and strong enough to speak up for himself. This is likely just the beginning of a long hard road for him, and my heart aches for him, as much as I admire him so much for being strong and going to school in clothes and colors he prefers. I hope the school talks to these boys parents. They need to know that they are bullying, and to be shamed for it before it develops into something even more dangerous. You and your husband are truly exceptional examples of good parenting, and I admire you so much for that. Praying for you all.

  146. My sentiment exactly about hitting “like”- I went ahead so as to say there’s a community standing with you.

    I went to a high school where you could beaten up by girls in the bathroom. Scary at 16. Unimaginable at 6. And for your son, much more personal.

    Intolerance is so ugly and starts so young.

  147. This brought tears to my eyes. I remember being bullied and tormented in the boys room at school. It was the place no one “different” wants to go. Sometimes I had friends who would go with me. But that didn’t always work. Honestly, I have no solution to offer. I never found one. I still dread using bathrooms that are large with more than single person usage.

  148. Lina says:

    This reminds me far too much of something a friend went through around the same age. Is there a different non-nurse bathroom in another hall that tends to be quieter, maybe by offices or the art wing instead of busy classrooms? Or a hall with single-person bathrooms instead of stalls? Good luck to the both of you.

  149. Robyn C says:

    This is awful. I don’t understand why there can’t be bathroom monitors in elementary schools. Then again, the high school nearest our house now is one where girls are routinely assaulted in their bathrooms.

    Jw has a point about using the nurse’s bathroom. In the book “Deenie” by Judy Blume, all the kids start asking her about her back brace (for scoliosis). She starts answering with crazy answers like, “I was thrown off the Empire State Building by King Kong” and eventually, the kids stop asking.

    And why on God’s green earth are they talking about your son’s toileting habits at Bible study? Some Christians!

  150. haugenka says:

    Sometimes when things just plain suck, there’s nothing to say except we’re with you. You will get through it – not pain free – but you will get through it together because you have a strong family and a huge world of supporters. Uncle Uncle’s right that we can’t always rescue our kids. Looking back (my boys are 17 and 15), I would go so far as to say we shouldn’t. But we can stand with them and hug them and simply be with them when times are this sucky-tough. The message they get then is “Life isn’t perfect, things won’t always go our way, we may or may not be able to make it better, but we’ll get through it by sticking together.” Hard as it is to believe, that’s actually more powerful than making the problem go away for him. Hang in there!

  151. Denise says:

    Fighting tears as I try to finds word for this. I wasn’t anything label wise as I grew up but I hated the bathrooms at school and all the peeking and bullying that goes with it. My kids don’t use the bathrooms at school either. I hope C.J. can find the words to deal with it.
    And that hag spreading rumors about your son at a church group is no Christian. She sounds like a vile beast hiding behind her bible to justify her hate.

  152. Lori this breaks my heart… I work at an elementary school and I can’t imagine it beingthat way for our students. Unfortunately it very well may be. Stay positive and continue to fight for CJ! Most importantly keep teaching him to protect and defend himself… know that there are people out there who are willing to go above and beyond for CJ. I would. I would walk him to a restroom and see that no one went in so that he could feel comfortable. Yes, I know he would then be “the boy who had to be alone in the restroom”. As a parent and a school employee I see both sides. Maybe it could be done until each one of those boys was disciplined for bullying. No one should uncomfortable in a school restroom. Its our job to protect them and make them feel safe! I don’t understand why more isn’t being done at that school? We need to educate these kids in every aspect! We need to teach respect whether we understand why someone is different than us or not! What the hell! What steps are they taking to ensure his safety? Allowing him to use an office bathroom isn’t going to change the behavior of those bullies. Its our job to help them help themselves and create an environment of learning. Sometimes those are life skills! It’s ok to be differnt. Its ok if you don’t understand! Its not ok to make people feel bad, sad, or scared. Stay on it…

  153. Pingback: TDoR: What’s next? | doubleinvert

  154. Keri says:

    This entry hit so close to home. My husband is FtM transgender and before he started hormones, he would get chased out of the men’s restroom. Now that he’s on hormones and passes as male, but is still legally female, it’s technically illegal for him to use the men’s room but it would be unsafe for him to use the women’s. A lot of trans* people refuse to go in public at all, and the ones who do can be subjected to violence if they’re “found out.” My thoughts are with your sweet son and I hope that he feels safe enough to go to the bathroom at school again soon.

  155. Jw says:

    Hugs for CJ, CJs mom and Nana Grab Bags. CJ should just use the nurses bathroom without question. He should tell the curious buggers a crazy fib as to why he uses it – make up a new story every day. Withholding is really unhealthy. The boys room is a bully’s playground.

    • Christine says:

      I think that the offenders should be foreced to use the nurses restroom…and everytime there is a problem, if they are sent to the nurses area, then the other students will know that they are peeking in on another boy…which in my opinion is so much weirder than rainbow bracelets…

  156. doubleinvert says:

    Clicking “Like” seems so wrong, but I think you understand my intention. Clearly, there is a LOT of more work that needs to be done. What CJ is being put through is unacceptable. Why should he be taught to defend himself? His abusers need to be taught not to abuse.

    HUGS

    -Connie

    • Lynda Otvos says:

      Connie, I so relate to the question “Why should he be taught to defend himself?” that it breaks my heart. I am a pacifist who has frequently been mistaken for my brothers-strange dynamic but anyway the defending of oneself is a life skill that we all have to learn for safety’s sake. Yes, the abusers need to be taught not to abuse but we have no control over that. CJ needs to be able to defend himself against all kinds of intrusions-psychological, physical… all of it. The maxim that like breeds like doesn’t apply to nice guys against bullies-the bullies are beyond that kind of thinking and one must be able to stand up for one’s self in those situations. Cuz it’s going to happen – it does to all of us. Especially if we are a bit different than the majority of them.

      • I find that most bullies are bullied and most of the bullied at one time or another bully. Usually people don’t remember being a bully, only being bullied, but most of us are both to some extent. I disagree somewhat. I think each and every one of those bullies can probably be reached somehow. But the nature of most young boys is not pacifism for better or for worse. And you are correct I think that learning to stand up for himself is the very best of all possible options. The second is a big scary adult roaring at them for a while. No tears or talking sense to them, just fear and compliance. Sometimes young boys need that I think, I believe I did sometimes and I’m no worse for it. But I just wanted to say be careful about completely vilifying these bullies here. Remember they are just young boys running around on pack instinct with no adult supervision. They’re only doing what nature tells them to do, they’re not necessarily bad kids and likely won’t be terrible adults some day.

        With that said, why the hell can’t the adult women go in that bathroom? I’m assuming they’ve had background checks right? Sounds like an overreaction doing more harm than good.

    • Not defending yourself is not an option. Sometimes harassment or even violence deliver themselves right to your doorstep.

  157. Danielle says:

    Does he have a friend who can be a bathroom buddy?

    • drosadove says:

      Pray for his inner strength. Get to know why boys are allowed to congregate in the bathroim. Work with the PTA to establish bathroom monitors.
      Know on the less nice side teach your son to declare you nasty kids are you gay or something trying to see my stuff. ATTACK back and make sure he goes to the bathroom with a buddy or monitor
      He has to learn to defend himself even if he likes only pink He must like himself first. Then othets will like him also

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