Cell phone video captures dispute over transgender school bus seating


SOUTH GLENS FALLS, N.Y (WRGB) -- A cell phone video out of South Glens Falls has gone viral, showing what's seems to be a bus driver telling boys to sit on one side of the bus and girls to sit on the other - and then kicking off two transgender students when they wouldn't move from one side. The students say their school is very accepting and welcoming to the LGBT community - but that this bus driver didn't reflect that.

"I felt like I was invalidated."

Layla Swenor, who goes by Aaren, and Leo Washington are South Glens Falls High School students who both identify as non-binary transgender. So they say they faced a problem when their bus driver told riders to separate.

"Guys on this side and girls on this side, and immediately I turned to them and I was like, 'uh oh, what're we gonna do,'" Swenor said.

Cell phone video that's circulating social media shows the incident. Swenor - who goes by they and them pronouns - says they were even contemplating sitting in the aisle - but took a seat on the side with the boys with Washington.

"I told him, I'm going to sit on the side I'm more comfortable on, I hear what you're saying, but this is the side I'm sitting on," Swenor said.

They said they told him they were trans - and weren't moving. That's when Swenor says they both were kicked off the bus.

"It really hurt, I wanted to cry and I wanted to scream," Washington said.

"Unfortunately it was very poor judgment of the driver..."

Superintendent Dr. Michael Patton says he's proud of how the students handled he situation. He says the reasoning of the driver is unknown and it's against what the district stands for.

"Today has obviously been a learning opportunity for all of us, we've been meeting with the kids talking to parents, to apologize first," Dr. Patton said.

Patton says the driver made the wrong decision and put students in an uncomfortable situation.

"We are not going to tolerate any behavior that would discriminate against students and ultimately we have to ensure our students safety and their rights."

The district says all staff members are required to go through a Dignity For All Students training at the beginning of the year - Patton says there will be further training and conversation amongst all employees. Swenor says they just wish for all faculty and administration to be educated and aware of LGTB and student rights.

"I want there to actually be a solution and for him to understand what he did and to understand that that's wrong."

The Superintendent says the driver did try to get in contact with administration at the time of the incident but no one was available. The school says the students met an administrator outside of the building right when they got off and parents were called. Patton says the incident is being handled by administration and the driver is not behind the wheel now or for the near future.

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