Transgender student alleges assault after using bathroom, family calls for charges

Courtesy of Ashley Sovereign

(MINNETONKA, Minn.) -- A transgender student is speaking out along with their family after allegedly being assaulted while using the bathroom in their Minnetonka, Minnesota, high school.

The May 30 incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime, according to local police.

Cobalt Sovereign, 17, told ABC News they were using the men's bathroom around 2:30 p.m. local time when a male student started peering over the stall while they were using the facility.

Sovereign said the student directed an anti-LGBTQ slur at them, and they said they decided to leave the restroom without finishing because of the other student's alleged hostility.

"I asked him what his problem was -- I had never seen him. I didn't do anything to bother him in any way whatsoever. And so I had no idea why he was being not kind to me," said Sovereign. Sovereign uses both they/them and she/her pronouns, identifying as both nonbinary or transgender.

Sovereign said that though the school appears very accepting -- and they say they do have a lot of emotional support from staff -- they say the student body has grown increasingly vocal in its transphobia, with slurs or objects being thrown at them in the hallway.

For Sovereign, feeling comfortable in school depends on what class they're in, and which teachers and students are with them.

"As much as support is increasing, hate and the cruelty toward transgender people and even just gay people, is increasing in just an astonishing way that I didn't expect to see," said Sovereign.

For Ashley Sovereign, it's hard to hear Cobalt speak about what they've been experiencing.

"One of the things we want to come out of it is just an awareness of how difficult it is for trans kids to just exist in school," said Ashley Sovereign. "She's just trying to go to the bathroom. Getting through the day is hard. It doesn't need to be any harder."

At least 12 states have restrictions on what bathrooms transgender people can use; Minnesota is not one of those states.

Sovereign believes that calls for transgender people to use the bathroom of their sex assigned at birth is "entirely just the way to isolate us."

"It's terrible that something that's seen as a solution by so many people is actively harming the people who are trying to use it as a solution," said Sovereign.

The family is calling for charges to be filed against the student they say attacked Sovereign.

Across the country, the U.S. has seen a rise in anti-LGBTQ bills and hate, according to the ACLU and Department of Homeland Security, respectively.

Minnesota, however, has recently passed a spate of LGBTQ protections. Ashley and Cobalt Sovereign say they are thankful to live in a community that has been very supportive in the aftermath of the alleged incident.

"It's astonishing just how much support we've received," Cobalt Sovereign said. "It's not only made this so much easier, it's made me feel a lot more secure about the community. I love them."

Ashley Sovereign added: "We were already really enjoying living in a place where you can walk around and see Pride flags ... It was pretty strong, I think even before this, but it really has brought out the love from people who don't know her, but want to protect her.

Friday, June 7, 2024 at 5:46PM by Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News Permalink