New transgender rules in Sarasota County spark controversy

New transgender rules in Sarasota County spark controversy

SARASOTA (WWSB) - About a hundred parents and residents showed mixed reaction about school district’s decision regarding transgender guidelines.

On Tuesday evening, Sarasota County School Superintendent Todd Bowden released the transgender guidelines that allow students to use restroom and locker rooms that fit their gender identity.

“The guidelines are flexible per school. Every school has autonomy to take a plan and make it work for that student.”

Vanessa Nicholas, a parent of a transgender student within the school district, is fine with the guidelines, but many people were not. Parents were upset they were not included in the equation discussing gender identity with faculty.

“They are our children. They are the school district’s students. As much as they love them, there’s a difference and parents need to know what their children are going through,” Katie McCay, who has two grandchildren in the school system, said.

Dr. Rachel Shelley, Booker High School Principal, served on a task force that helped come up with these guidelines. She says the ultimate goal for these students is to feel safe and appreciated.

“Some of them [students] have stories and histories where they are not as comfortable sharing things with their family members, as such if we want that environment then we put ourselves in a position where we are willing to listen to them unconditionally,” Shelley said.

As far as the final decision goes, Nicholas says she’s happy the district is thinking of students first.

A portion of the guidelines say it’s up to the student and the student alone to share his or her identity. In the case of elementary age students, the student and parents are involved. However this on a case-by-case basis.

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