Students, Protesters Clash Over Gender-Neutral Restrooms at High School

"The bathroom's there for a reason, so they just wanted to come make a conflict," one student said of the protesters

A protest outside a high school near downtown Los Angeles took a violent turn when students and protesters clashed over the school's new gender-neutral restroom.

The brawl erupted Tuesday afternoon as protesters stood across the street from Santee Education Complex, angry over the school's implementation of a restroom designated for both boys and girls — one of the first in the state. The school officially opened the bathroom on Friday.

Students stood in front of the school, with both sides shouting at the other before the fight began. The melee was caught on cellphone video by Jose Robles, a 14-year-old student.

"One of the students just tackled the guy that was going against the gays and a whole load of students jumped in," Jose recalled.

In the video, a man standing with the protesters could be heard saying "burn in hell, Santee."

"The bathroom's there for a reason, so they just wanted to come make a conflict," Jose said.

Students with the Santee High School Gay-Straight Alliance called for the gender-neutral restrooms. School officials called the students trail blazers. 

"This is our pride, we're not going to sit in the corner and not saying anything," said student Monique Garcia.

Students told NBC4 they were repeatedly told to "burn in hell." 

"It's just a bathroom," said student Sasha Phillips. "

One student was escorted from the campus for safety reasons, authorities said.

School officials did not comment on the fight.

Protesters said they planned to return to the school Wednesday afternoon with more supporters. Details regarding the possible protest were not immediately available, but the school planned on having extra police patrols on campus.

Gender-neutral bathrooms have become a source of contention nationwide, with North Carolina passing a controversial law that requires gender-specific bathrooms in public places. High courts overturned similar legislation in Tennessee and Virginia, and South Dakota's governor vetoed a transgender bathroom bill last month.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd and Adrian Arambulo contributed to this report.

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