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Public high school closes gender-neutral bathroom after student sexual assault

An 18-year-old male was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault and exposing himself to a child.
Wed Mar 4, 2020 - 6:39 pm EST
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RHINELANDER, Wisconsin, March 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A Wisconsin high school closed its gender-neutral student bathroom after an 18-year-old male allegedly sexually assaulted another student. 

The 18-year-old, Austin Sauer, was arrested for child enticement, fourth-degree sexual assault, and exposing genitals to a child in the designated gender-neutral bathroom of Rhinelander High School, according to the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office. 

Sauer, who has not yet been charged, was released on a $1,500 bond and is due to appear  in court in April, according to multiple media outlets.

In order to accommodate transgender or “gender expansive” students, late last year the school refitted a boys restroom, converting it into a gender-neutral facility. The move was seen as an easy, cost-effective way to deal with the issue.  

However, the gender-neutral space invites mixed-gender use, creating new opportunities for sexual assault not available in single-sex restrooms.  

In 2017, The Heritage Foundation issued an exhaustive report examining the problematic nature of gender identity policies in public schools.  

The report, authored by Ryan T. Anderson and Melody Wood, asked an important question: “Is a biological male who displays his private parts to a woman while coming out of a women’s restroom stall a flasher or transgendered? What about the biological male whose eyes wander while in a women’s locker room?

“Allowing a man, based only on his claim to be (a) transgendered woman, to have unlimited access to women’s rest rooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, showers, etc. will make it easier for ... sex offense behavior … to happen to more women and children,” according to Kenneth V. Lanning, who is quoted in the report. Lanning is a former FBI supervisory special agent assigned to the Behavioral Science Unit and the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime at the FBI Academy.    

“Such access would create an additional risk for potential victims in a previously protected setting and a new defense for a wide variety of sexual victimization,” said Lanning. 

“Public restrooms are crime attractors, and have long been well-known as areas in which offenders seek out victims in a planned and deliberate way,” said Tim Hutchison, retired sheriff of Knox County, Tennessee.  

“Access policies to restrooms based on ‘gender identity’ create real and significant public safety and privacy risks, especially in women’s and children’s restrooms/dressing rooms,” added the retired sheriff. 

Although The Heritage Foundation report was published nearly three years ago, the authors were able to compile a list of 130 examples of men charged with using bathroom, locker room, and shower access to target women for voyeurism and sexual assault.  

Here are a few examples of women and girls victimized by men entering women’s spaces documented in the report:

  • In Minnesota, a biologically male high school student who identifies as female was allowed access to the girls’ locker rooms, where the student danced “in a sexually explicit manner — ‘twerking,’ ‘grinding,’ and like he was on a ‘stripper pole,’” flashed his underwear while dancing, asked about a girl’s bra size, and asked her to “trade body parts.

  • In Toronto, a man posed as a transgender woman (“Jessica”) to sexually assault and criminally harass four women — including a deaf woman and a survivor of domestic violence — at two women’s shelters. Previously, he had preyed on other women and girls whose ages ranged from five to 53.

  • In Virginia, a man presented as a woman in a long wig and pink shirt to enter a women’s restroom at a mall to take pictures of a five-year-old girl, her mother, and another woman.

  • In Toronto, two separate occurrences of voyeurism took place on campus after the University of Toronto implemented a policy of gender-neutral bathrooms. In both cases, male students were found using cell phone cameras to film women showering. These incidents prompted the University of Toronto to revise its new policy.

  • In Milwaukie, Oregon, a man was arrested for dressing as a woman to enter the women’s locker room at an aquatic park. He had been convicted previously of sexual abuse, purchasing child pornography, and unlawful contact with a child.

  • In Olympia, Washington, a man wearing a wig and a bra was arrested for entering the women’s bathroom at Everett Community College. He admitted under police questioning that “he was the suspect in an earlier voyeurism incident.”

  • In July 2016, a biological man who identifies as a woman and was wearing a wig and dress was charged with secretly recording an 18-year-old girl changing into swimwear in a Target fitting room in Idaho.

More than 120 additional examples can be found in the online report published by The Heritage Foundation. 

In another report also published in 2017 that examined “bathroom incidents,” The Family Research Council said, “It is important to note that the concern is not that transgendered individuals are more likely to be sexual predators, but rather that sexual predators could exploit such laws by posing as transgendered in order to gain access to women and girls.” 

When schools implement gender neutral bathrooms and dressing room policies, they entice opportunistic criminal behavior by students who might otherwise not be moved to engage in such activity. 


  bathrooms, family research council, gender neutral, heritage foundation, high school, transgender, wisconsin

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