According to ABC, Gender Bender Day at 71st High School in Fayetteville, NC was a day for students to dress as the opposite gender. But the principal told students that some of them were "dressed inappropriately" and would have to change. Student Arryn Tyler says she got mad: she gave the principal the finger and then went up to talk to her. When she was done, a sheriff's deputy grabbed her from behind and lifted her in the air. She kicked him, and he tackled her, scraping her face and knee — she ended up visiting a hospital for her injuries. Says Tyler, "He lifted me up from the ground, so I was kicking my feet. Next thing I know, I am going face first — like my face was slammed into the ground and a huge weight on top of me. His belly on my back, he was on top of me."
Tyler now faces charges of resisting arrest, assaulting a law enforcement officer, and disorderly conduct. Obviously, she could have handled the situation better — kids, don't give your principal the finger, and don't kick cops. But did a 300-pound deputy really need to tackle a teenager — who looks relatively small in the footage — in order to subdue her? And why did he grab her in the first place? This seems like a situation where law-enforcement action may have escalated the conflict, and brought criminal charges and violence into something that should have been a school disciplinary matter.
There's also the question of what the principal was objecting to in the first place. ABC's report doesn't explain exactly what caused Tyler's anger. Were kids violating the dress code, or was the principal somehow displeased with the way LGBTQ students chose to observe Gender Bender Day (Tyler wears a "Mom I'm Gay" shirt in the clip)? There's some debate over whether school opposite gender days are good for gay and trans students or not — according to Towleroad, one trans professor says a holiday of this kind "demeans students that may be wrestling with issues of gender identity and puts them at risk." And if Gender Bender Day led to extra restrictions for LGBTQ students, that's problematic too. We don't know if this was the case, but if Gender Bender Day is causing conflicts that end in violence, it may be time for 71st High School to rethink how it celebrates — and how it deals with behavior problems.