Transgender student fights for equal rights

Colton Robertson, Editor-In-Chief

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Senior RJ Appleberry is suing the Blue Springs School District for not being allowed to use the bathrooms as a transgender in the schools. The case has been taken to the Missouri Supreme Court.

Appleberry transitioned in elementary school, and in the beginning he was told to use the nurse’s restroom. This didn’t bother him initially. It was new, and he was young. Then in middle school, things continued. He wasn’t allowed in locker rooms or boys bathrooms, so he continued to change and use the restroom in the nurse’s office. In 8th grade, Appleberry decided to play football.

“I was let into the locker room after a certain time, to give the boys time to change,” Appleberry said, “On the first day, I went in early because we weren’t in pads and nobody was changing, so I didn’t think it would be a big deal.”

When this happened, the coach proceeded to remove him from the locker room and yelled at him, telling him he couldn’t enter the locker room until his designated time.

This is what got the ball rolling for Appleberry’s lawsuit against the district.

“We tried to do something about it, but the district kept saying ‘bring a court order’ and refused to negotiate anything,” Appleberry said, “So, we brought them a court order.”

In the past four years, Appleberry and the district have been in district court, the appeals court, and now the Missouri Supreme Court. The district is unable to comment on any pending litigation. Appleberry is passionate about his cause, and isn’t in this for the material rewards.

“We aren’t suing the district for money. Our goal is for trans kids to be allowed to use whatever restroom they feel comfortable in,” Appleberry said.

He also looks for people to be able to look past their previously held prejudices and beliefs.

“I really hope that people can try to look past their own beliefs, see the transgender community from a different perspective, and be more accepting of others,” Appleberry said.

The case was put on a shelf for a while.

“Honestly, there was a while I forgot we even had this case,” Appleberry said, “But recently, it became more relevant after my family and I learned that the Missouri Supreme Court would hear it.”

This whole process has taught Appleberry a lot. He’s learned about the many sides of the issue, and has faced a lot of adversity.

“I’ve learned more about keeping yourself composed during hard times. I’ve gotten better at hearing and understanding the multiple perspectives to issues like this. I’ve received a fair amount of hate and ignorance, but I know that you have to brush it off. With that, I’ve also gotten so much support from friends, family, and strangers, and it’s nice to know that I’m far from alone in this fight,” Appleberry said.

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