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Sarasota schools mull transgender bathroom rule

Posted at 6:03 PM, Feb 16, 2016
The Sarasota County School Board is considering allowing transgender students to use bathrooms they identify with.
 
It’s already allowed in one Sarasota school, and now leaders are considering allowing it district wide.
 
While it may make some people uncomfortable, supporters say it’s a human rights issue.
 
“I look at the bathroom situation the same as segregated bathrooms. I think it’s exactly the same,” Nate Quinn said.
 
Pine View School senior Nate Quinn is taking a stand for transgender equality. Not just for his school but for all Sarasota County students.
 
“I was born a boy. I just had to do a lot of other things for people to see me as a boy,” he said. 
 
Nate and several other students asked their principal to change the school policy. At first the answer was “no,” but after several requests it worked. Last month Pine View school adopted a policy allowing students to use bathrooms they identify with.
 
Nate said in order for it to stick it needs to be county wide, which is why he spoke in front of the school board two weeks ago.
 
District leaders held a workshop Tuesday considering the proposal, but they all have strong opinions on what should and shouldn’t be allowed.
 
“I’ve have four granddaughters that I know would be appalled to walk into the boys bathroom and have the boys in there with them,” board member Frank Kovach said.
 
“I would think if they went to the bathroom that they look like it would be less of a problem,” Shirley Brown said.
 
Psychotherapist Dr. Mary Davenport has worked with transgender people for 40 years. She says if nothing changes transgender students will continue to feel uncomfortable using bathrooms they don’t identify with or they won’t use the restroom all day.
 
“It’s horrible. They live in fear. They’re afraid of being attacked, either verbally and or physically,” she said. 
 
Davenport says if school leaders adopt a district wide policy it will bring more inclusiveness and decrease harassment against transgender students.
 
“This is uncharted waters, and the last thing we want to do is get sued by making the wrong step,” said board chair Shirley Brown. 
 
Since the district doesn’t have a policy it’s up to schools to deal with. Most handle it on a case by case basis.
 
For now it’s something the school board says it will consider, but they’re  not ready to make a decision just yet. 
 
If the school board makes a district wide policy and it’s against what Pine View already has in place, Nate’s school will have to make a change.
 
We’ll continue to follow this proposal closely to let you know what happens.