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High school closes gender-neutral bathroom after student is arrested for sexually assaulting another student

School closes bathroom to students

Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

Authorities arrested an 18-year-old student at Rhinelander High School in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, after the student allegedly sexually assaulted one of his fellow students.

What are the details?

According to WSAW-TV, authorities arrested the 18-year-old student — identified as Austin Sauer — on Thursday on charges of child enticement, fourth-degree sexual assault, and exposing genitals to a child.

The Wisconsin Legislature defines fourth-degree sexual assault as "sexual contact with a person without the consent of that person."

A spokesperson for the Oneida County Sheriff's Office said the incident took place in the school's gender-neutral bathroom. The school has now closed the bathroom to its student population.

Capt. Terri Hook said the school did not notify parents of the incident because it was reportedly an isolated occurrence.

In a statement, Rhinelander School District Superintendent Kelli Jacobi said that "both students went into the bathroom voluntarily."

"This was not a random incident, both students went into the bathroom voluntarily," she said. "That bathroom is no longer available to students. The male student will no longer be able to be on the school grounds."

WSAU-TV reported that Sauer, who was released on a $1,500 bond, is set to appear in court in April.

What else?

WAOW-TV reported on the bathroom's opening in October.

The school refurbished a former men's bathroom and turned it into a gender-neutral space in order to make comfortable the students who were transgender or "gender expansive."

Maggie Peterson, then-director of learning support, said it was imperative to address the school's diverse student body.

"[W]e started having discussions about what policies and practices ... [w]e need to examine so that we can better meet their needs," she said at the time. "This was a very cost-effective way to do it. All we had to do was swap out the stalls."

One trans student said that such bathrooms make a big difference in the lives of transgender or questioning students.

"If I go into the bathroom and there are other students in there, then I have to go all the way down to the first floor and use the nurse's bathroom," the student said at the time.

One last thing…
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