Hall County in North Georgia is sticking by its refusal to allow transgender students in its public school system to use bathrooms that match their gender identity, arguing it's a “common sense approach.”
The county school superintendent doubling down on his stance is the latest chapter in the potty wars that erupted in Georgia since May. That's when the Obama administration proposed guidelines calling for schools to allow trans students to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. The guidelines also call for schools to provide access to all programs to transgender students, refer to them by their chosen names and pronouns, put in place safeguards to keep their gender identity private and respond to reports of harassment.
The guidelines prompted an outcry among conservatives in Georgia. The state school superintendent promised a brawl, the state sued and lawmakers threatened a legislative response. The Atlanta schools chief welcomed the new guidelines and locally-based Fortune 500 companies have taken the lead on creating trans-friendly rest room policies.
But not so much in Fannin County, where parents freaked and compared trans students to “pedophiles” and “perverts.” Leaders in Gwinnett schools, the largest district in Georgia, slammed the new policies but did offer to provide gender-neutral bathrooms for transgender students.
In Hall County, Superintendent Will Schofield (photo) said the school district's policy is to follow a “simple and common sense approach.” You can bet that doesn't involve following the new federal guidelines. Via the Gainesville Times:
Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield issued a memo to principals Friday afternoon, telling them to “follow this simple and common sense approach.”
Schofield said, “I understand you are getting some questions about gender and bathrooms today. We continue to operate under the same procedures that have served our community for generations:
“The Hall County School District does not have ‘bathroom policies.’ In our district, boys use boys’ rooms and girls use girls’ rooms. We also make single stall bathrooms available to families and/or individuals with accommodation issues.
“I encourage you to continue focusing on the issues that relate to caring for and educating our 28,000 boys and girls,” he said.
Schofield reiterated that policy last week in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court order that blocked a lower court ruling that would have allowed a transgender student in Virginia to use male restrooms at his school. Nevermind that the order is temporary until the high court can review the case this fall or that it doesn't have anything to do with Hall County schools. (It doesn't.) Schofield stuck to his guns, according to the Gainesville Times.
“The Hall County School District expects individuals to utilize the restroom of their biological sex,” Schofield said. “Principals always have the ability to make private restrooms available to any individual that needs a reasonable accommodation.”
He said that policies on restroom use are “a local issue.”
Yet Schofield is using a court case in Virginia to stick to the school district's transphobia. And speaking of locally, Georgia has the fourth-highest transgender population in the U.S. And trans students in metro Atlanta say school can suck for them. So he should factor that into “caring for and educating” all of his students – and not dismiss trans students as “individuals with accommodation issues.”