Tennessee school districts respond to transgender bathroom directive

(Graphic: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The transgender bathroom debate intensified Friday morning after the Obama administration issued a directive saying public schools must permit transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity.

It comes as North Carolina fights with the federal government over their recently-passed law that restricts the use of public bathrooms by transgender people. The government says it violates civil rights while North Carolina’s governor insists it is “commonsense privacy policy.”

Read about the transgender bathroom directive here.

Here in Middle Tennessee, some of the larger public school districts all said they address transgender bathroom use on a case-by-case basis, ensuring the needs of each student is met.

Joe Bass – Spokesman for Metro Nashville Public Schools:

Following guidance from the Office for Civil Rights and the Department of Justice, we review every request for restroom and locker room accommodations for students who identify as transgender.

We handle these on a case-by-case basis and work with the school, student and parents to find the best solution. Our goal is to provide a supportive environment for all students and make them feel welcome in their schools.

Nashville is much like the rest of the country in working through the logistics and implications of meeting the needs of all, including our transgender community members. We will continue to follow the law and work for what is best for our students.

We have done everything from training and education for staff to unisex restrooms and private changing rooms to accommodate student needs.

James Evans – Spokesman for Rutherford County Schools:

Like other school districts, Rutherford County Schools has received the advisory letter from the U.S. Department of Education giving guidance to schools pertaining to transgender students and bathroom facilities.

Our school district already works with students and their families on an individual basis to resolve these types of issues, and the school district plans to continue doing so in a manner that serves the best interests of all students involved. To date, we have been able to resolve these issues while being in compliance with the guidance we have received from the federal and state levels.

Dr. Mike Looney – Superintendent of Williamson County Schools:

Williamson County Schools places a high priority on making all students feel welcome, wanted and worthwhile. We have a rich tradition of supporting our students’ diverse needs in a safe and nurturing manner. Our district has established non-discriminatory processes which allow all students to preserve their privacy and dignity while maintaining a safe, distraction-free learning environment. Our district handles these matters on a case-by-case basis, and to date has been able to accommodate the needs of all our students without complaint. What we are doing is working, and we have no plans to change.

Meanwhile, the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) is now calling on Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Attorney General Herbery Slatery to tell school districts statewide that Obama’s directive “is not the law and can be disregarded.”

David Fowler, President of FACT, says the President has “outdone himself with his latest attempt to violate the right of parents to protect their children, violate the privacy of children, and trample on the Constitution and rule of law by pretending a ‘guidance letter’ can have the force of law.” Click here to read his full statement.

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