46ºF

Florida county to consider transgender bathroom policies at schools

School district leaders debate transgender bathroom policy

photo

The highly disputed topic will take center stage in Sarasota County on Tuesday. School district leaders will consider allowing transgender students to use the bathroom with which they identify at school, WTSP reports.

Pine View School in Osprey recently changed its bathroom policy, citing the The Civil Rights Act.

The U.S Department of Education addressed the subject in a memo two years ago, saying that schools "must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes."

Sarasota School Board members will speak publicly about the transgender policy for the first time on Tuesday and may look into imposing a bathroom policy across the district.

Leading the movement is a 17-year-old transgender student, Nate Quinn. Quinn was born a girl but has always considered himself a boy. He said using the men's restroom just seems natural to him. He worked to get the policy changed at Pine View.

WTSP learned that Hillsborough County School District attorneys are working on designing a proposed bathroom policy as well. In the next few months board members there could vote on the idea.

Pinellas County authorities are watching what happens in Sarasota County, but have not started implementing any changes. Nor has Pasco County.

In Florida, transgender groups have faced immense backlash over bathroom rights.

Last spring, protesters demonstrated inside the state capitol during debate on a bill that would punish anyone who uses a public restroom that does not match the sex into which he or she was born.

The greatest backlash in Sarasota County is being led by local ministers. Since Pine View changed its bathroom policy, board members have received 41 emails, an email support petition signed by 340 students and complaints at the last board meeting from nearly 200 people.

Tuesday's school board workshop is at 9:30 a.m. The restroom topic is expected to be discussed about 11 a.m.