Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bathroom Decision Backlash | School Board Gets an Earful over Pine View Accommodating Transgender Students

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Bathroom Decision Backlash | School Board Gets an Earful over Pine View Accommodating Transgender Students

Article excerpt

EDUCATION

At least 160 people came to the Sarasota County School Board meeting Tuesday evening from as far away as Charlotte County to protest Pine View School's new bathroom policy that better accommodates transgender students.

Pastors and members from about a dozen churches and others against the new bathroom policy wore white. About a dozen transgender people and supporters also spoke at and attended the meeting.

The show of opposition and support for the new policy came after Pine View student Nate Quinn asked the school if he could use the men's restroom. Quinn was assigned female at birth but identifies as a transgender male.

Pine View originally resisted, but after school and district officials reviewed directives and rulings from the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education, school officials changed the policy to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that best matches their gender identity.

That policy change is not districtwide, but it has ignited controversy.

The meeting area was full, even after officials opened up an extra room for overflow.

Quinn sat stoic at the meeting as seven speakers said the policy to accommodate him would harm other students.

Jared Gritton, a pastor of First Baptist Church in North Port, said the policy violates other students' right to privacy and safety.

"What rational father will let an 18-year-old biological male follow his 14-year-old daughter into the bathroom?" Gritton asked during public comment. "This is an endorsement of something that is not only nonsensical but utterly opposed to God."

Nancy Hamlin, another North Port resident, said, "I would not suffer any child to any exposure that would put them in harm's way - - that's physically or emotionally -- especially during their formative years when they need our protection and guidance to become productive citizens in the community," she said.

Quinn spoke softly after his name was called.

"To those who oppose these supposedly radical policy changes: Do you know what it means to be transgender?" Quinn asked. "I wasn't born female and decided to be a male. I was born a male, my life just requires more effort for me to be the man I am. …

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