Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Marion County School Board plans to enforce bathroom ban on transgender students

Posted By on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 11:40 AM

The Marion County School Board is set to vote Tuesday night on a measure that would restrict students' access to school bathrooms based on their birth sex, not gender identity. 

The Ocala Star-Banner reports the proposed resolution would "ban transgender students from using the bathrooms for which they identify." Four of the five school board members support the measure, and it could take effect as early as tomorrow, according to the Star-Banner

The full resolution, which you can read here, says "sex is defined as a person’s biological sex, either female or male, as determined at birth." The measure also says: 

"WHEREAS, [Marion County Public Schools] students are minors, in the majority, who are entitled to education and care in a safe and protective environment; and WHEREAS, male and female users of MCPS single-sex facilities reasonably expect not to be exposed to persons of the opposite sex while using those facilities; and WHEREAS, persons who are transgender, gender nonconforming, gender fluid, and/or gender independent are not a protected class under federal or state law or MCPS policies; and WHEREAS, neither federal nor state law prohibit MCPS from restricting single-sex facilities to use by persons of a designated sex." 
As the Star-Banner points out, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has "ruled that transgender students should be allowed to chose their gender-specific bathroom." The school board's meeting will be today, April 26 at 5:30 p.m. at 512 SE Third Street in Ocala.

UPDATE: The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida sent the Marion County School Board a letter saying the bathroom ban would “violate Title IX sex discrimination requirements, violate the equal protection clause of the US Constitution, and jeopardize federal funding for the school district,” according to a press release.

“Excluding transgender students from the same restrooms used by other students that correspond to their gender identity would send a message to transgender students and their peers that transgender students should be treated differently and that their mere presence in the same facilities used by their peers is unacceptable,” the letter says. “When transgender students are required to use separate facilities, it does not go unnoticed by other students. Being separated from other students in this way would be damaging to anyone, but it is especially harmful for transgender children. Transgender children are at heightened risk of stress and victimization by other children and adults, and those stressors can lead to problems in adulthood, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and suicidality.”

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