SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – It was a peaceful protest that organizers hoped would send a loud message to the Sarasota County School Board in Florida.
Dozens of transgender students and their supporters protested outside the board’s meeting Tuesday night demanding the same rights other students have, including access to bathrooms they feel comfortable in.
They say right now they’re being discriminated against, although the school board chairwoman says up until this point, she has not heard of any complaints.
Shirley Brown said the district is doing everything it can to accommodate students on a case-by-case basis, but many students at the protest said that’s simply not true.
Nate Quinn is the student behind the movement for transgender rights. Nate grew up as a female but now identifies as a male.
“If you’re questioning somebody else’s gender, that’s not really any of your business,” he told News Channel 8.
Nate helped create a bathroom policy for his school.
His voice was heard, but he told News Channel 8 most others are being silenced when it comes to student bathrooms.
Meanwhile, Brown said it’s uncharted territory for the district.
“We have nobody checking,” Brown said about transgender students using male or female bathrooms. “We have no panty checks going on at our bathrooms, but what it is is that we need to make those children feel comfortable.”
Brown went on to say the board doesn’t want to make a move that could put them in the middle of a political firestorm. Brown said there’s no law they have to follow at this time, except a rule from the Florida High School Athletic Association that says transgender students can play on whichever team they identify with.
“We don’t want to write the policy,” she added. “We want to accommodate them without having to write that policy to become that lightning rod.”
That’s not good enough for transgender students and their supporters.
“It makes me very angry that the school board is ignoring this issue even though the community has said that this is important and we need to make a decision on it,” said Julia Schaults, a supporter of transgender students.
As for Nate, he realizes it will take time to sort everything out, though he’s just glad he got the ball rolling.
“This is about what I can leave behind for other trans kids so they can just go to school, use the bathroom that they’re comfortable in and never have to fight about it,” Nate said.