TAMPA (FOX 13) - Transgender students will soon have new bathroom options in all Hillsborough County schools, a spokesperson for the district said Tuesday.
Every principal is required to designate at least one "universal" bathroom in their school by the beginning of the next school year, making it available to every student.
"There will at least be one, possibly at least two or three at many of our campuses, depending on the size of them," explained Tanya Arja, a district spokesperson.
The move is in response to President Obama's directive in May that all public schools allow transgender students to choose the bathroom that matches his or her gender identity.
Hillsborough Schools won't be taking that step at this point, but this is the district's first step in complying with the president's instructions.
Most schools will likely convert single-use bathrooms, such as a faculty or nurse's restroom, into the universal bathroom.
The announcement comes a day after all principals went through a two-hour training course.
"It basically focused on creating with safe schools, so it deals with sensitivity, it deals with confidentiality, it deals with the proper terminology to use with this population of students and also pronouns," Arja said. "This isn't really a new issue for us. We have had a population of transgender students in our schools for a number of years and we have worked with them and we are doing a pretty good job."
Robert Quinn, principal at Jefferson High School, was among those who went through the training process.
"It was enlightening training about making sure that we are meeting our requirements for the school district," he said, adding he feels his school is prepared to make this kind of change. "We've always believed that no student should be bullied or harassed based on gender identity, based on race, based on religion, based on any reason."
The plan was met with some mixed reviews among parents and county residents.
"I think it's a great idea," offered John Rosado. "As a gay man growing up in high school, I didn't really want to go into a men's bathroom knowing whether or not there were going to be people there that are going to discriminate against me for what my sexual orientation was. And these days we are having more and more transgender kids coming into realization of what they are and they are not going to be comfortable going into a single-sex bathroom."
"I guess I'm old-school, so I particularly don't like it," countered Cynthia Vessells, whose grandson is in fourth grade. "I think the schools is one of the beginning of it and it's not going to end there. So my opinion, it shouldn't happen."