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Education

Lawsuit Aims To Stop Duval Schools Transgender Bathroom Policy

DuvalCountyPublicSchools_1.JPG
Cyd Hoskinson
/
WJCT News

 

The Duval County School Board and school superintendent are being sued for allowing transgender students to use the bathroom matching their gender identity.

The Departments of Justice and Education sent a letter to every public school district in the country Friday, instructing them transgender and non-transgender students "can all enjoy a safe and discrimination-free environment," the Obama administration said.

The letter advises public schools how the Department of Education Title IX nondiscrimination policy is to be interpreted. Since schools receiving federal dollars aren’t allowed to discriminate based on a student’s sex, they can’t discriminate against a student based on gender identity.

Duval is complying with a directive.

Republican State Attorney candidate Wesley White filed the suit against Duval Schools on behalf of a Duval mother.

White said his client Wryshona Isaac has four children — ages 8,9, 13 and 15 — and thinks people will abuse this privilege and put her children in harm's way.

“My client is concerned about the privacy interest of her kids when they’re in a male or female bathroom and from other people who are not male or female as the case may be coming in,” White said.

MORE | Read the entire lawsuit below

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff objects to the policy of allowing students "an unfettered right to use the bathroom or changing facility of their choice based on ‘gender identity.’ " The lawsuit states that the actions policy denies "her children a safe and supportive environment that would allow them to thrive and grow, and deprives them of the right to bodily privacy.”

A Duval Schools spokeswoman said the district can’t comment on pending litigation, but Superintendent Nikolai Vitti was on WJCT’s First Coast Connect Monday to talk about the issue.

He said Duval County Public Schools has enforced a policy of not discriminating against LGBT students, and the federal directive doesn’t change anything.

“Over the past several years we’ve had transgender students come forward, usually at the school level and that issue bubbles up to the district level so that we can problem solve to make sure that we can accommodate students,” Vitti said.

Vitti says the district allows transgender students to use restrooms they’re most comfortable with.

Vitti said he understands parents might be concerned with their child’s safety and should look further into the matter.

"I would truly encourage all parents to research this issue and they will find that there are no documented cases of transgender-related violence in bathrooms by going into the other gender's bathroom," he said.

This week Clay County’s superintendent Charlie Van Zant issued a statement his district will not comply with Obama’s directive.