Stock photo of a transgender person in a bathroom. (Creative Commons/Zackary Drucker/Broadly Gender Spectrum Collection)
Schools in Georgia have reversed a trans-inclusive bathroom policy after staff and students received death threats.
The new trans-inclusive policy allowed trans students to use the bathroom that aligned with their gender identity.
But on October 16, the school board said that due to “many serious safety concerns” that had arisen as a consequence of implementing the trans-inclusive policy – with harassment of students and vandalism of school property – the district would be returning to the previous bathroom policy, which means trans students must use single-stall gender-neutral bathrooms.
“School board members, staff, and students have been threatened due to the administration’s implementation of Adams vs. St. John’s County School District,” the school board said in a statement.
“There have been death threats, student harassment, and vandalism of school property. The district understands and acknowledges that it has the responsibility to protect its staff and students.
“However, the district has concerns that it may not be able to meet these recently increased demands. Therefore, the district shall return to bathroom procedures in place at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year until it can consult with law enforcement and other safety professionals so that these concerns may be addressed.”
The board voted to reverse the policy in an emergency meeting, according to CNN, after parents had raised concerns about the bathroom policy at a 14 October school board meeting.
The policy change had come after a single trans student had “requested to use the restroom which that student identifies with and the administration has permitted that use”, CNN reported, but parents at the high school had “expressed concern” over the school’s decision to allow that trans student to use the bathroom they wanted to because it would jeopardise the “safety of the high school students”.
The trans-inclusive policy stemmed from a case in Florida, where a trans student had sued for their right to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity instead of a single-stall gender-neutral bathroom.
The 11th circuit appeals court ruled that the student could use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity, which was the federal ruling that the Georgia school had followed.
But the Florida school has already appealed against the ruling.
The Georgia schools superintendent told local news that he was “embarrassed and disappointed” at having to reverse the trans-inclusive bathroom policy.
“The way some called names has been embarrassing and disappointing to me, and that’s hard to get over,” Pickens County Superintendent Carlton Wilson said.
Recalling the death threats, Wilson said, “One of them said, ‘You know, situations like this brings out crazy people from both sides and sometimes people die.’”