Stafford County School Board to force trans students into segregated bathrooms
The Stafford County School Board voted 6-0 in favor of forcing Hartwood Elementary School’s lone trans student to use a separate bathroom from the rest of the students.
“The issue isn’t as clear as anyone would like it to be, and I’m hoping at some point that we get some direction either from our legislators in Virginia or from VSBA [Virginia School Boards Association],” Superintendent Bruce Benson said during them meeting according to the Fredericksburg.com.
The new policy will force trans students to use a single-stall restroom, the restroom of the student’s biological gender, or a staff bathroom.
Prior to Tuesday’s school board meeting, the unnamed trans student had been allowed to use the restroom and locker room aligned with the gender they identified with.
Support for changing the policy to isolate the trans student was in full force, as many as 15 parents spoke out against the school’s accepting bathroom policy in what was called a “packed meeting.”
“The perception in the community is that the school board is throwing away the rights of many children for the wants of some confused children,” Curtis Lineweaver said, according to Fredericksburg.com.
Eric Kingston, the parent of a Hartwood student shared similar concerns with allowing a trans student to use the bathroom they identify with.
“We have now opened the door for any predatory individual to claim this gender identity to enter the restroom of the opposite sex and prey upon our children behind closed doors.”
One of the four parents who spoke in support of the trans student said she had planned to remain silent, but told the Stafford County Sun she changed her mind after hearing trans students called “freaks” and “undisciplined.”
“I don’t think children are confused; I think the parents are confused,” she said, noting that she hopes no one, as parents, forgets to educate their children’s hearts.
But LGBTQ advocates say the change in policy is not only wrong for the child, it’s against federal law.
“Putting policies in place to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity is not only the right thing to do; it is also what schools should do in order to comply with Title IX,” said James Parrish, Executive Director for Equality Virginia (EV).
EV had sent out emails to their supporters in the Fredericksburg area ahead of the meeting, which Parrish attended.
“Fear and lack of understanding took the limelight last night,” said Parrish about the public comments he heard.
Stafford County Public school’s nondiscrimination policy, which was updated in Dec. 2013, does not include sexual orientation or gender identity – however the ability of trans students to use restrooms aligned with their gender identity has been addressed at the federal level under Title XI.
The ACLU of Virginia has already filed a legal complaint against another Virginia county school board in Gloucester for similarly denying a trans student the right to use the correct bathroom.
“Courts have repeatedly found that gender identity discrimination is sex discrimination,” said ACLU of Virginia legal director Rebecca Glenberg about the Gloucester complaint. ”Consigning transgender students to segregated bathrooms prevents them from participating in school activities on an equal basis and causes exclusion and ostracism.”
Top image via Hartwood Elementary
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