NEWS

Winnipeg family says they're bullied because daughter is transgender

10/02/2014 06:39 EDT | Updated 12/02/2014 05:59 EST
A Winnipeg couple says their whole family is being bullied because their daughter is transgender and they say the school division isn't doing enough to stop it.

Izzy and Dale Burgos said ever since eight-year-old Isabella was four, she knew she was a girl inside. 

And that's how she returned to school to start grade three in September, as a transgender girl. 

That's when the bullying started, but it wasn't other students bullying her.

It was the parent of a friend. 

Isabella said she was waiting for her brother in the school a few weeks ago.

A parent picking up her child took issue with Isabella as she was heading to use the bathroom. 

"This lady walked up to me and told me I couldn't go to the girls' washroom," Isabella said. 

Isabella's mother, Izzy, said the woman went over board.

"This person I never met felt the need to yell at my daughter," she said. "I can't fathom yelling at a child, especially one that's not yours."

The school spoke to the parent but Izzy Burgos said it it didn't end there. In fact, it got worse. 

"She comes back and does it to me and my older son and Isabella again," she said. "And then two weeks later again to my son. I'm just frustrated."

School division changes rules 

Burgos and her husband Dale say Joseph Teres School has been co-operative with Isabella's transition.

At first, they allowed her to use the girls' facilities.

But now she has to use a gender-neutral bathroom.

And the woman who's been doing the bullying has continued.

River East Transcona superintendent and CEO Kelly Barkman confirmed that the woman, a parent of Isabella's friend, has been spoken to about the comments she made to Isabella and her family.

"We are aware of the situation and the principal and division are working with everybody to make sure that everyone is feeling safe," he said.

But Isabella's father, Dale, said the division is not doing enough to protect his family.

He has contacted police about the bullying incidents.

"We've really been wanting Rainbow Resource Centre (a not-for-profit group that advocates for gay, transgender and other communities) in there [to] talk with the school division and talk with the schools," he said. "It's not about preaching. It's just about answering questions that people might have."

Isabella said she would love some help.

"Because a lot of people have been asking me questions and I just want the teachers to teach about transgender," she said. 

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