Protests took place Monday over transgender students using bathrooms at John Jay High School.

Students at John Jay High School walked out of school early Monday afternoon to protest transgender students using bathrooms of the gender they identify with, rather than what they were assigned at birth.

“A bunch of people from our school, John Jay, feel uncomfortable,” said Shauna Neilan, a senior at John Jay High School. “We want to change that and give them their own spaces to make us more comfortable and them more comfortable.”

The planned event led to a dualing protest made up of adults and students in support of transgender students using the bathroom of the gender they identify and feel comfortable with. 

That protest was organized by Defense of Democracy, a nonprofit organization that educates the public about inclusivity and works to ensure schools are a safe space for all.

Among those with them was Cory Pittore, a John Jay High School senior, who now identifies as a transgender man.

“I feel as though that we shouldn't be silenced no matter what,” Pittore said. “We are human, just like everyone else. I, myself, have been struggling with this for so long, and I just feel like we shouldn't be silenced because we're human ourselves.”

The protesters stayed civil as they chanted across a parking lot down the road from the school.

Wappingers Central School District Superintendent Dwight Bonk said they were made aware of a potential walkout over the weekend, as indicated in a since-removed petition, and had police present in case things escalated.

Under state and federal laws, school districts must provide transgender students with access to restrooms of the sex that they identify with, which might not be what they were assigned at birth. 

“We want to support all of their rights, but we're also going to be following the proper protocol that we are responsible for following,” Bonk said.

The petition, which was started by Neilan, alleged incidents have occurred in the restrooms targeting a specific transgender student.

Bonk said he is unaware of this taking place.

There are male and female restrooms, as well as a gender-neutral single-stall restroom that any student may use.

“We are going to continue to provide a safe environment for all of our students. And all means all, each and every one of them,” Bonk said.

Bonk said students who left school early will be having code of conduct conversations.