Calls for support after transgender student recants attack story

A transgender student who claimed he was sexually assaulted by three boys in a campus bathroom may have recanted his allegation, but the school district's board president said Tuesday that it doesn't take away from the need to pursue a more supportive environment.

"Sometimes a young person uses poor judgment, but we have to be compassionate and understand what motivated the student to want to do this," Charles Ramsey, West Contra Costa Unified school board, said, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "Everybody is human and we all make mistakes."


There was a swift police and administrative response after the 15-year-old transgender student, who is biologically female but identifies as a male, reported the alleged attack on Monday. Authorities said they were investigating the incident as a hate crime and sexual assault case at Hercules Middle-High School, which had already gained notoriety over similar tolerance issues, the Mercury News reported

On the homepage of the school's website, a letter from Principal Jen Bender posted after the alleged assault -- and seemingly before the teenager recanted his story -- outlined many of the school's efforts to address the issue.

Among the moves the school made: Increasing security on campus, doubling the number of mental health providers on campus for students and staff; offering counseling sessions during all middle and high school gym classes; and ensuring the library was open for any students who wanted to talk with each other or with school staff about the incident.

But the 15-year-old transgender student admitted to making up the report after investigators explained that there was no evidence to back it up, according to Hercules Police Det. Connie Van Putten.

"We were unable to substantiate any of the statements he made," Van Putten said. Additionally, police found no injuries to the boy that would have corroborated his report, she said. A sexual assault examination was also performed.

The alleged attack had heightened concerns at Hercules Middle-High School because of an earlier on-campus fight involving a transgender student, the Mercury News reported.

The most recent report at Hercules -- true or not -- reignited debate over a law passed last year that requires school districts to let transgender students participate in school programs and use school facilities based on their gender identity instead of their biological sex.

Still, Ramsey told Mercury News, "it doesn't take away from the fact that we need more support for transgender students."

"I'm just relieved that nothing of this nature did happen," he said. "It would have been a tragedy."