Evans, GA – President Barack Obama has issued a directive to public schools stating they are obligated to treat transgender students in a way matching their gender identity. Several states are said that they will forgo billions of dollars of federal funding because of this. The issue has already impacted the CSRA.
The spotlight on LGBT issues in North Carolina has the phones at Columbia County Board of Education ringing and ringing. This news is now prompting that district and many other school districts to think about its policy on how it accommodate transgender students.
A Friday morning email addressed as “Dear Colleagues” from the U.S. Department of Education answers the question: How can schools make sure transgender students enjoy a discrimination free environment. This is critical since the hottest topic begins with where transgender people should go to the bathroom.
“We want to take care of all of our children, no matter what their needs are,” Columbia County Schools Superintendent Sandra Carraway said.
She told News Channel 6 that parents throughout Columbia County are calling the district with concerns after national reports about students who identify with another gender going inside not just bathrooms, but locker rooms and other places where the clothes come off.
The letter reminds school officials of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, that warns schools receiving federal money to stay free from discriminating based on a students’ sex, including transgender status. It goes on to say once a student or their parents notify a school about transgender status, the school must treat the students consistent with the student’s gender identity.
In the halls of Columbia County schools, it’s no different.
Carraway said, “We have restrooms that are for males and females and then we do have some individual restrooms throughout the Greenbrier building that are open to students if they have a need for additional privacy then those restrooms are available.”
This news is on the heels of the CSRA’s annual LGBT celebration. Augusta Pride issued the following statement about the Obama Administration’s response to gender equality in schools:
Augusta Pride supports the President and applauds his courageous efforts in the fight for diversity, inclusion, and acceptance.
” as is consistently recognized in civil rights cases the desire to accommodate others discomfort cannot justify a policy that singles out and disadvantages a particular class of students to ensure that all students including transgender students can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex”
Greenbrier is one of those schools following the guidelines the Department of Ed handed down to schools. Carraway said non-gender specific restrooms are located on every hallway
“If there were a transgender student who came to one of our schools we would have a meeting with district office personnel and the school administration and the family, the student and the parents to discuss what that child’s individual needs are,” she said.
We reached out to Richmond County School System about the same letter and a spokesman there says the district has not had time to fully analyze the directive issued by the Obama Administration.