Some parents in Blue Ridge are angry that transgender students might use restrooms with their children and are protesting to protect “their Christian values.”
But the effort – which included a gathering of nearly 100 parents on Monday with plans for a prayer rally and protest on Thursday – comes without any movement from the school board concerning restroom policies and without any transgender students. The school system refuses to say if the district has any trans students enrolled or if they face a complaint of discrimination from a trans student.
That didn't stop parents from meeting on Monday to decry even the possibility of a transgender student using a restroom that matches their gender identity rather than their gender at birth.
“We want our kids protected when they go to school, and their Christian values should be allowed to be expressed,” parent Anthony Walden told Fox 5.
Angel Chancey told WSB that she'll remove her children from Fannin County schools over the issue.
“We're going to do everything we can to stop this, and if not, then us moms are going to come home and teach our kids like it used to be,” Chancey said.
Samantha Pugh (photo), a parent with three children in the school system, told Fox 5 that allowing transgender students in restrooms puts her kids at risk.
“I feel like our children were put into risk in situations, as elementary school students, they should not be involved in,” Pugh said.
But the protest may be a fight without a reason. It's not clear if the school district even has a transgender student. School system officials refused to say.
“We can't go into detail whether we do or don't have a transgender student,” Superintendent Mark Henson told WSB.
But Henson said if a trans student stepped forward, the student, their parents and the school principal would meet to discuss how to move forward. And Henson offered a clumsy explanation using the offensive, transphobic arguments offered by anti-LGBT conservatives to walk through the school district's approach.
“We want to make sure this is something the child truly identifies with and it's not a fad or it's not going to be a 10th-grade guy wanting to look in the girl's restroom,” Henson told WSB.
The Fannin County School District, which serves Blue Ridge, McCaysville and Morganton, has five schools and 3,212 students. The county is in North Georgia about 90 miles from Atlanta and shares a border with Tennessee.
'I hate that money is more important than ethics and morality'
If the school system didn't accommodate transgender students, which is required by federal law, it could face the loss of about $3.5 million in federal funds, school district attorney Lynn Doss told Fox. 5.
Walden (second photo) told Fox 5 that he'd remove his grandchildren from a school that allows transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
“If money is what it's all about, I hate that we've come to a place that money is more important than ethics and morality,” Walden said.
The parents plan to meet again on Thursday for a prayer rally at First Baptist Church in Blue Ridge before walking to the school system offices to protest during the board's monthly meeting, according to Fox 5.
The flap in Fannin comes as the debate over HB2 heats up in North Carolina. Among the anti-LGBT provisions in that measure, signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory on March 23, is one that requires trans people to use restrooms according to the gender assigned at birth.
The Justice Department warned McCrory that the law violated the Civil Rights Act. So he sued the feds and on Monday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch fired back with a lawsuit against the state. Via Think Progress:
As per the Department’s letter last week, the suit alleges that HB2 violates both Title VII (nondiscrimination in the workplace) and Title IX (nondiscrimination in education), as well as the Violence Against Women Act, by requiring transgender people to use restrooms according to the gender assigned at birth. The protections afforded on behalf of “sex,” they argue, extends to transgender people.
Lambda Legal and the ACLU of North Carolina filed a lawsuit over the law in late March.
In the wake of McCrory signing the law, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed banned non-essential travel by city employees to the state. Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and Council members Alex Wan and Andrew Dickens proposed a resolution asking the NBA to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte to Atlanta over the anti-LGBT law.
And a new CNN poll released Monday shows that Americans broadly oppose laws like the one in North Carolina that would require transgender people to use facilities that match their gender at birth instead of gender identity.