Parent asks Flagler County school board to add protections for transgender students

Teacher refuses to use student’s chosen name, parent says

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Randy Bertrand passionately addressed the Flagler County School Board on Friday pleading for the school district to add protections for transgender students when it comes to bullying and harassment.

“I realize that we may be meeting the standards set forth by the Florida Department of Education but I ask you to do more,” Bertrand said. “Inclusion is including everybody. This is a very small group but it’s a very tender, fragile group.”

Bertand said one of his son's teachers at Matanzas High School refused to call him by his chosen name and embarrassed him in class. His 15-year-old son came out as transgender about a year ago.

"By choosing and making a willful choice to not use his chosen name, completely invalidated his identity," he said.

Betrand said his son ultimately dropped the class and is considering switching schools.

Betrand quoted a 2011 settlement between the school district and a Flagler Palm Coast High School student after the student claimed to be mistreated for being gay. Bertrand said the policies in place do not show any change since then to protect the students.

School Board member Colleen Conklin praised Betrand’s son for being brave and sharing his story. She said that they review their policies every three years. Their policies on bullying and harassment were last revised in January.

“It can be confusing when you look at it and I just wanted to make sure to clarify," Conkin said. “That’s not to say it’s a policy that doesn’t get continually tweaked.”

Bertrand spoke with News 6 on the phone Monday night.

“The point I was trying to make was that they had an opportunity two additional times since that time, that the settlement occurred to make these changes, and I just don’t see any language specifically referring to protections regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The school board told Bertrand that it’ll investigate their concerns. Meanwhile, the school district said Matanzas High School is currently investigating the teacher involved.

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