A group of parents have filed a lawsuit against Vicksburg Community Schools after learning the school district would allow transgender-identifying students to use the bathroom or locker room of their preference.
Superintendent of Vicksburg Community Schools Kevin O’Neill and Assistant Superintendent Steve Goss are also listed as defendants, along with Vicksburg High School principal Adam Brush, and Vice Principal Matthew Hawkins.
Parents claim Vicksburg School district’s policy discriminates against their daughters. The district cites federal guidance and Michigan state law in defense of its decision to allow transgender-identifying students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match their sex at birth.
Richard Cutshaw, a parent of several students in the school district, headed an inquiry into the school’s policy on transgender-identifying students after his daughter, who recently graduated from Vicksburg High School, informed him of a male student who was using the girl’s bathroom on campus.
Cutshaw, who had no prior knowledge of the school’s policy, said his daughter told him she felt uncomfortable when the transgender student used the girls’ restroom. His daughter also revealed the student had been using the girls’ bathroom since last year. Cutshaw said his daughter, along with other girls, informed school administration that the transgender-identifying student’s presence in their bathroom made them uncomfortable, though administration declined to address their concerns, citing the school’s policy.
After learning of his daughter’s concern, Cutshaw called Principal Brush, who said the school was following “the law” and couldn’t address the situation further.
“I could tell by talking to the man he wasn’t really in favor of it,” Cutshaw told Timcast News, adding the principal had daughters too. “Sounded like he was kinda stuck.”
“I had to find out if other people knew about this,” Cutshaw said adding he posted to a local Facebook group. “Found out that a lot of parents either didn’t know about it or did know about it because their daughter said something to them but didn’t know how to go about it.”
“They didn’t want to ruffle any feathers.”
Cutshaw said he was removed from the Facebook group after addressing concerns over the school’s policy, though he started a new community group shortly after.
The father contacted the Vicksburg school board president, Virgil Knowles, and scheduled a meeting. He, along with a group of parents and attorney Matthew DePerno, who represents the parents, met with the school board president, Superintendent O’Neill, and the board’s legal team to address their concerns over the policy.
“They told us ‘there’s nothing we can do,'” Cutshaw said, noting no law was provided to defend their claim. “We left with an answer we didn’t like and we weren’t gonna take that.”
“They basically said if your daughters don’t like it then they can ask to use the single-stall restrooms.”
— Public Schooling Battle Map (@PubSchoolFights) August 29, 2023
Cutshaw said the transgender-identifying student had been asked by the administration to use the school’s single-stall restroom, though the student’s mother reportedly threatened to sue the school for discrimination.
“Basically, you’re going to make an accommodation for a boy who wants to identify as a woman so he feels safe and secure in a restroom or facility,” Cutshaw said of the school’s policy, “but you’re not gonna make an accommodation for the biological female to feel safe and secure in the bathroom or locker room of her biological sex.”
“We tried all of our avenues,” he said. “We tried approaching the school, we tried talking to the board, we even had parents address the board.
Cutshaw said the board appeared more concerned about the transgender-identifying student than the parent’s concerns, adding parent’s were not informed of the policy on transgender-identifying students.
“I am not going to sit here and make a statement on whether we agree or disagree,” said board president Knowles per WVMT. “Current binding case law in Michigan requires public schools to allow all students, including transgender students, to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identification.”
“You need to take it up with your state legislators,” the board president told parents. “We need to have some action at the state level, we are kind of caught in the middle of it all.”
The administration also claimed to be unaware of students’ complaints during the board meeting, according to Cutshaw.
“There should have been a newsletter, there should have been an email,” he said. “There should have been something that went out to the parents saying, ‘hey, by the way, we’re gonna start letting biological males use the biological female’s spaces per this gender-identity policy.'”
The father said the school and district have yet to provide public notification of the policy to parents.
“They did their best to try and hide it from us,” he said.
DePerno commented on the school district’s policy per WVMT:
“The principal told them there is nothing they can do about it,” DePerno said. “The issue was settled and told the students to make the best of the situation.”
“The biological males who want to use the girls’ restrooms, in other school districts they are denied that and provided with a unisex bathroom to use.”
The attorney also commented on the school’s policy in a statement to Timcast News.
“The school administrators keep saying ‘the law is settled.’ This is a blatantly false statement. The law is not settled,” Deperno said. “There is no law in Michigan that permits this school policy. The districts across the country are divided. It is a case of first impression in Michigan. Why is the school lying?”
“The school administrators were presented with complaints by girls (minor girls at that) about a biological male exposing himself in the girls’ restroom and changing in the girls’ locker room,” he continued, citing Michigan law. “This is a crime (indecent exposure) … Rather than stop this, the school administrators not only allowed it to continue but told the girls ‘it’s fine’ and told them not to bully the male. It’s outrageous.”
DePerno further cited Knowles’ statement about the policy from the aforementioned board meeting:
Vicksburg Community Schools expect that any individual using a restroom will respect the privacy of everyone else using the restroom and will conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. If not, the student will be held accountable according to Vicksburg Community Schools discipline policy. As a school community we are obligated to create a safe and welcoming school climate, supervise it appropriately, and clearly articulate expectations about acceptable behaviors. We are not also required to address allegations of unlawful … we are also required to address allegations of unlawful bullying, harassment, or discrimination and will continue to do so.
“This is not a comment directed at the biological male exposing himself in the girls’ restroom. This is a statement that targets the girls,” the attorney said. “They are saying that the girls must conduct themselves appropriately. They are saying the girls are the bullies. The statement (coded, if you will) is outrageous.”
Pro skateboarder and outspoken critic of men participating in women’s sports Taylor Silverman, a Timcast associate, praised the parents in a statement to The Post Millennial.
“In a time where many people are scared to use their voice, it gives me a lot of hope seeing parents taking a stand for their daughters,” Silverman, who is originally from Michigan, said. “I’m also extremely grateful that more people in Southwest Michigan are speaking up for girls.”
I know what it’s like to be impacted by gender ideology as an adult but I can’t imagine going through something like this as a young girl or having a daughter experience this. These girls should have never been subjected to this in the first place. What’s already happened cannot be undone but I hope that this case leads to a resolution where girls can feel safe at Vicksburg Schools and current and future students do not have to face fear and embarrassment due to male students in female bathrooms and locker rooms. I think this also raises the question of why minors are being encouraged to identify as transgender and transition in Michigan.
“Minors cannot consent and do not have fully developed brains to even fully understand the concept of permanency like adults do,” she concluded.
Cutshaw and parents have started a GiveSendGo page seeking donations to assist in legal fees as the case is litigated.
Vicksburg Michigan Biological Girls Rights Fund https://t.co/sfNy6zLeBG
— Richard Cutshaw (@Stiles2634) June 1, 2023
“We have to fight out battles in our local communities,” Cutshaw concluded. “We’ve gotta take our schools back. We’ve gotta take our local governments back.”
“It all goes from the bottom up and it’s all gotta start there.”