Sarasota Co. School Board to gather info before creating transgender bathroom policy

Pine View School created a transgender bathroom policy after receiving a request from a student.

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — School officials in Sarasota County won’t be making a decision anytime soon about the controversial issue of transgender students and bathrooms.

On Tuesday morning, the board discussed transgender bathrooms and decided to learn more before making a policy ruling.

Pine View School in Osprey is believed to be the first school in the area to implement a transgender policy of its own. The school recently announced that transgender students can use the bathroom of the sex they identify with.

At the meeting, board members were very cautious over how to proceed with this issue. They decided for now they will maintain the status quo until they learn more information on how to move forward on this issue.

Currently, the Sarasota County School District does not have a transgender student policy. Instead, the issues are handled on a case by case basis.

School Board Chairwoman Shirley Brown said, “It’s scary for a lot of us, as school board members and parents, it’s an issue we don’t know, its uncharted waters.” The school board attorney told board members currently there is no clarity on how school districts should handle these cases. He pointed out there are two federal cases where transgender students sued school districts. In each case, the court decided in favor of the school district, and now the students have filed appeals.

The attorney also said the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) recognizes the rights of transgender students to be on the team they identify with.

The school board wants take time to make the right decision. “We don’t want to run out there and be the leader one way or another on this,” said Brown. “The last thing we want to do is get sued by making the wrong step.”

The School Board members are also concerned that if they make a decision that can be viewed as discriminatory, then they could have their federal funding revoked.

So, the school board will wait to gather more information. They will wait for the opinions on the federal cases. Next month, school board member Jane Goodwin will attend an LGBT forum in Broward county where she will learn how other school districts handle this very issue. She will share her findings with the school board.

This initiative was sparked by Pine View senior Nate Quinn, who was born a female but now identifies as a male. He’s disappointed that major action wasn’t taken at the meeting. Quinn said, “I feel like leaving it open to schools is going to make it a lot harder for trans people to be accepted in schools.”

Wayne Blake has a child who attends Pine View School. He doesn’t like the policy that Pine View created. He said, “I don’t think it’s fair to the other students at this school. I think we can make provisions where it can be more palatable for other parents that are concerned.”

School board members did not make it clear when the issue will be brought up again.

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