Sarasota Co. considers bathroom policy for transgender students

- A Sarasota County student says he wants to pave the way for change in schools across the district, but the topic of transgender bathrooms is a dilemma school board members said they never expected to face.

"I would think if they went to the bathroom they looked like, it would be less of a problem for everyone involved," said Board Chair Shirley Brown.

The board is trying to figure out bathroom policies for transgender students. It may be the first district in Florida to confront the issue. 

"It is here and we need to listen to the community look at what is in the best interest of our students. All of them," said board member Bridget Ziegler.

The topic is not without controversy. Some parents and religious groups have voiced concern.

"I understand their concern. They are afraid of what they don't know or what they fear might happen. I haven't seen any of these fears come true. I don't want to make policies on fears that aren't based on reality," Brown explained.

The district does not have a policy on which bathroom a transgender student should use. Schools are free to handle it on a case-by-case basis.

Senior Nate Quinn, who was born female, but identifies as a male said the district needs a set policy.

"I feel like leaving it open to schools is going to make it a lot harder to make it for trans people to be accepted in schools. It's hard enough to come out as trans, but then to be told oh you need to use the women's bathroom," said Quinn.

Nate's principal at Pine View allows Nate to use the men's bathroom after talking it over with Nate's parents.

"I feel comfortable and I feel like I'm more accepted," Quinn explained.

Nate believes the district policy should allow students to use which ever bathroom matching the gender with which they identify. However, some board members said they are not comfortable with a matching policy. 

"I have granddaughters that would be appalled to see a boy in the girl's bathroom. I find it very disconcerting, what's gong on," said board member Frank Kovach.

The school board will take more time before reaching a decision, leaving the matter in the hands of each school until then. 

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