“Ostracized” – North Carolina Parent’s Gender-Neutral Bathroom Request for Non-Binary Kids Sparks Backlash

A small town in North Carolina is making national headlines after a parent made a simple request on behalf of their six-year old children.

Gender Neutral Bathrooms a Hot Topic in North Carolina Again

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North Carolina parent, Mortellus (who uses they/them pronouns), was shocked to find that a month after touring a new elementary school for their twin six-year olds, their family’s names and gender identities had become the subject of a community-wide debate.

Pagan Family at Center of Community-Wide Debate

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Mortellus identifies as non-binary, and alongside their co-parent Joe, is raising their twins without emphasis on gender. Their children have been given the freedom to express themselves as they wished. As pagans, their religion encourages this practice. 

Family Tours a Charter School 

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When it was time to look into a new school for the twins, Mortellus and Joe toured Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, a highly-rated charter school in Rutherford County, North Carolina. The tour was uneventful, and Mortellus thought it went well.

Parents Ask About Genderless Toilets; Assured of No Issue

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During the tour with staff, Mortellus and Joe asked if gender-neutral bathrooms were available for their children to use. They were assured that the school was equipped with single-stall restrooms in the kindergarten classrooms. 

Religious Concerns

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Concerned about their children facing possible discrimination, Mortellus asked the staff members if they should be worried about their pagan children fitting in with their classmates. Again, they were assured that the children would be well protected and cared for at the school.

Staff Members “Leaked Confidential and Identifying Information”

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Mortellus and Joe left the school unaware that their family would soon be the topic of discussion among thousands of community members as a result of their tour. According to a public statement released by Mortellus, a staff member from Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy “leaked confidential and identifying information about my family to the general public.”

Online Groups Created to Discuss Family

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In an online community called “TJCA Christian Parent Community,” geared toward Christian families attending the charter school, Mortellus and their family were publicly identified without their knowledge as the center of what was now a community-wide issue.

“The Masses Had to Adhere to the Set Rules”

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“It’s not about pinpointing a child or a bathroom,” wrote a poster, who, according to Mortellus, claimed to be a staff member at the school. “It’s about the changes they are implementing for one family when the masses had to adhere to the set rules given on day one.”

The Rumor Mill

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Despite being told that gender-neutral bathrooms were already available for their childrens’ use, Mortellus soon learned that the staff members who leaked their family’s information were claiming that the family was demanding the installation of new genderless toilets for their own use.

Equality Group Responds to Discrimination

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In response to the original parents’ group, a second online group called “TJCA Parents for Equality” spawned, this time standing in support of Mortellus and their family. The second group appeared to have good intentions, but missed the mark as well, as far as Mortellus was concerned.

“There Is a Family Out There Who Is Hurting”

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“There is a family out there who is hurting and feeling ostracized,” wrote a parent in the equality group. But according to Mortellus, that statement was untrue. At the time of the posting, they had no idea that either group even existed. And by the time they found it, “hurt” was not an accurate description of their feelings.

“I am Angry”

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“I am not hurt,” Mortellus wrote. “I am angry.”

Local Politician Chimes In

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Hunter Haynes, a TJCA parent and local candidate for a county commissioner seat, spoke out in a statement to “voice his concerns” about the situation. Haynes’ statement focused not on the affected family or their two children, but on the concept of “non-binary bathrooms.”

The Great Pronoun Debate

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Haynes also shared the erroneous notion that they/them pronouns are not “proper grammar,” and indirectly chided Mortellus and their family for disregarding the “correct usage of pronouns that students are expected to learn beginning in kindergarten.” English experts maintain that they/them pronouns have been used for centuries to refer to a single person when a gender was not specified. 

Issues With the School Uniform

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The politician and parent also condemned the idea that Mortellus was told their children could wear any variation of the school’s uniform they liked. Haynes said that the concern over uniforms indicated that “the issue of non-binary bathrooms is a gateway for many issues to come.” Mortellus highlighted a portion of TJCA’s uniform policy, which does not indicate that students are restricted to certain types of the approved uniform based on gender.

Parents Threaten to Leave School Over Debate

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In his statement, Haynes urged other parents who agreed with his stance against “non-binary bathrooms” to “have the courage to lead their families to schools where science, logic, and facts are more valued than feelings.” He said that he, along with other parents, would unenroll his children from TJCA if Mortellus’s request for neutral bathrooms was approved.

Threat Unclear as Neutral Bathrooms Already In Use

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However, as was told to Mortellus during the tour, the bathrooms in question are already in place at the school, and whether Haynes and other parents will move forward with their threat is unclear. 

The Community Meets, But Not Everyone Is Allowed to Speak

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Meetings to discuss the issue were held at the school board level, but Mortellus was denied the option to speak at the meeting for more than the standard three minutes. As their story continues to receive media attention, Mortellus is using their platforms to speak out about the discrimination their family has received.

“They’re Children”

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Through the entire ordeal, Mortellus has made it clear that their priority has been making sure their children are protected from the adults debating their rights. “They’ll never know this happened — because they’re children,” Mortellus wrote. “While adults fling words like arrows, they were just a pair of children loving what children love. Butterflies and rainbows, playing dress up, and outer space.”

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The post “Ostracized” – North Carolina Parent’s Gender-Neutral Bathroom Request for Non-Binary Kids Sparks Backlash first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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