‘Help protect me’: Classmates secretly recorded video of student who is transgender

CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. — Classmates reportedly secretly recorded video of a student who is transgender in a boy’s restroom at Burns High School in Cleveland County and posted it to social media.

“I was floored,” Clay Sentell told Channel 9.

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The 16-year-old student said friends saw the videos posted on Snapchat. One video showed Sentell washing his hands. The male students who recorded the videos also showed the junior wearing high heels while in the bathroom.

“I felt like my privacy was invaded. I was terrified,” Sentell told reporter Ken Lemon.

Sentell started to wear heels this year. He identifies as transgender and shared his preferred pronouns as he/him.

“It’s just who I am. It’s how I express myself,” Sentell said.

Sentell said he asked to use the ladies restroom at Burns High School, but instead reached an agreement with the school to use a seldom-used bathroom.

Sentell said that bathroom was far away from scheduled classes, so he used the closest men’s room and had no idea he was being recorded there.

Sentell’s mother, Annie Sentell, said her son told her about the videos last Tuesday. Annie Sentell said she emailed the principal multiple times with no response. She said last Thursday she emailed that she was going to show up at the office on Friday morning.

She told Channel 9 that email got a response that no one would be able to speak with her until Monday.

“I think the school has just mishandled the whole situation,” she said.

On Friday, Clay Sentell and his sister, who also attends Burns High, wore signs to school. Clay Sentell’s read, “Help protect me.”

Annie Sentell said she then got a call from the principal.

“It makes me mad the administrators were quick to call me on Friday to say (the signs) were a distraction,” she said.

Annie Sentell decided not to go to the meeting with the principal on Monday morning and is looking into legal action against the school system.

“It’s made me feel nervous,” Clay Sentell said. “It’s made me feel scared. It’s made me feel upset but regardless of all that, I’m still going to love them.”

Channel 9 reached out to the principal and school officials for comment but has not heard back.

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