School boards react to transgender bathroom directive

- School district leaders in the Bay Area reacted to a landmark directive issued by the Obama Administration  Friday, aiming to end the debate about which bathroom transgender students can use.

President Obama is ordering public schools to allow transgender students to choose the bathrooms they feel comfortable using, or risk loss of federal funding.

Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins said he's waiting on further direction from the  federal government.

"We are now in the process of reviewing the document carefully. We will also monitor information coming from the U.S. Department of Education and recent federal court decisions," Eakins said during a news conference. "I think one of the best things we do now is really review the documents, wait for that guidance because we don't want to give information that may be erroneous. We want to make sure there's clarity."

The president and transgender advocates view this move as a civil rights victory.

Hillsborough County School Board Chair April Griffin said she's all for equality and the district may have already been heading in this direction. She's not sure they and other districts needed to be forced down this path.

"I think that this is a bit of an overreach of our federal government," she told FOX 13 News. "I am a bit  surprised. I thought as a local school board, we could deal with issues that we need to deal with that  our community requires from us."

Griffin said one of her biggest concerns is the threat to pull funding if districts aren't fully compliant.

"Our state and our federal government are continually overreaching, creating unfunded mandates," she said. "There's no extra funding attached to it. But if you don't comply, there's sanctions. So it's just one of those unfunded mandates."

Cindy Stuart, the School Board's Vice Chair, wouldn't take sides but said it'll be up to the superintendent to make sure every school complies.

"That is the superintendent and his staff's job. The board sets policy to make sure that all of our students are treated equally and that's really where we are right now," she said.

Some parents have concnerns.

"I think that this is one of those issues that affects a very small number of people and is being so  blown out of proportion that it's going to very negatively affect everyone that has a gender issue," said Louise Fletcher of Tampa. "Usually people will solve things all by themselves, by community and I  think probably it should be a community issue or a school district issue. It's at very largest a state issue, but certainly not a federal issue."

The Department of Education has issued a list of guidelines, explaining how it expects schools to respond.

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