Groups sound off on school’s district bathroom policy

Drew Adams (right), 16, a transgender student at Nease High School with mom Erica Kasper on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 in Jacksonville. (Will Dickey/Florida Times-Union)

Supporters of the Nease High School transgender student who recently filed a federal discrimination suit against the St. Johns County School District for the right to use the boys’ bathroom spoke out at a school board meeting Tuesday.

 

The Lamba Legal organization brought the legal action on behalf of Drew Adams, who is entering his junior year at Nease, on June 28. The lawsuit seeks reversal of the district’s policy, which has required Adams to use gender-neutral, single-occupancy bathrooms since September 2015, shortly after Adams, who was born a girl, began identifying as a male.

“I just ask that they use logic in the use of their (restroom) facilities and let them (students) use the facilities that match their gender identity,” said Andrea DeGeorge, a member of the Indivisible St. Johns organization.

DeGeorge was one of several speakers who addressed school officials at the meeting.

School board member Patrick Canan, who is also a local attorney, said while the board appreciated the public’s comments, the panel couldn’t respond because of the pending litigation.

Indivisible St. Johns has mobilized with other local groups to put pressure on the district to change their gender bathroom policy, as well as bring awareness to the challenges transgender individuals face. Members of some of the other organizations who are supporting Adams’ cause — including LGBT St. Augustine, PFLAG St. Augustine and the Women’s March of St. Augustine — were also at Tuesday’s meeting.

DeGeorge called upon the district to hold a community forum to encourage dialogue around the issue.

Daniel Sostrom, a district parent and president of the local PFLAG chapter, told the board, “I believe this is segregation and it’s just not right.”

Other speakers said they didn’t believe transgender students were more likely of perpetrating a sexual assault in a bathroom than students of any other gender identity.

James Sean Phelan, a 2017 graduate of Ponte Vedra High School, said he had transgender friends and the policy unfairly targeted them.

The lawsuit is based on the claim that Adams’ rights are being infringed upon in violation of the 14th constitutional amendment and a Title IX federal directive that bans sex discrimination in education. Named as defendants in the legal action are the school board, Superintendent Tim Forson and Nease Principal Lisa Kunze.

The school district’s attorney, Frank D. Upchurch III, did not respond to a message left by The Record before press time.

Mary LAWRENCE 13 days ago
All the speakers were polite, eloquent and well informed. This is where we make our voices heard until this issue resolves equitably. 
[removed] 13 days ago
This comment has been deleted
Clementine Clover 13 days ago
Yes, let's spend time trolling and using CAPS. 
Tom Reynolds 13 days ago
Seems to me the SJCSD has a good bathroom policy already. 

SJCSD BATHROOM POLICY:

IF YOU GOTTA GO WELL THEN GO BEFORE YOU HAVE AN ACCIDENT IN YOUR PANTS !  

BEST POLICY EVER ! 


Mach Hoyle 13 days ago
What a waste of time and resources. The kid needs a shrink and to stop trying to making the world revolve around him/ her, or whatever identity "?" chooses to be. Nice nose ring I might add. Sure to land him a job at Smith Barney. What tribe is that from?
Lisa Averill 13 days ago
Wow.  A STUDENT ... a CHILD sues a school district --- what kind of message is THAT?   So instead of resources being spent on educational needs and resources to help the student BODY,  the district has to spend money because of a STUDENT suing them?  

The district provides a perfectly appropriate NEUTRAL gender restroom, but no that's not good enough.  

Seriously, adults and law makers and examples of the world.  WE are the adults in our society. We are the educators and leaders, not children and their sometimes self-centered, not-yet-matured sense of reality in the world.  The most important one being:  The world does not and cannot spin around one particular individual & their demands ... or group.  Sometimes we have to just pick ourselves up from the rigors of life, consider what is best for ALL society, not just A society, and move forward towards our own feelings & needs. Solutions that benefit all society, not one particular group.  Get some backbone and stand firm against any person SUING an educational institution when it provides a suitable restroom facility for ANY student and chuck the ACLU & their liberal, self-centered cronies to Timbuktoo.  Be LEADERS not adults who bend to the whinings of one person or social group.  Absolutely absurd.  The resources should be used for our children's education & enhancement, not one particular group or person's "rights" who by the way, does not yet as a child have the maturity to be making choices about their sexual ... anything.   Geez.   For starters, their focus need be on education and how to prepare to be a  productive, selfless, giving member of society, not just themselves.  He/She has an appropriate restroom which is appropriate solution to their needs.  End of story.

I think I --- yes me -- and my nephews and nieces --  have a right to go to the restroom  in gender specific restroom.    How 'bout those apples?
Clementine Clover 13 days ago
Geez....Very insightful. People are entitled to there opinions, as everyone has one. 

The courts will decide this matter and not you or anyone leaving a random comments with this is how I feel validation. People should use time to give back or even go to events like these to voice their concerns and be part of their community. It is easier participate by trolling or post on FaceBook, hiding behind the scenes. However, the real work is putting yourself out there and working with your community whether you agree or not. 

End of story....I hate corresponding with trolls. 
Tom Reynolds 13 days ago
WHO DO YOU MEAN CC ? 
Lisa Averill 12 days ago
GM Ms. Clover!   I'm curious now if you went to the meeting before jumping in with your critique of a section called "Comments"  that most people use to do just that and is meant to be used for that purpose.  I'm also wondering how much you "put out there" for our community.   Personally, I can guarantee to you that I spend upwards to about 24 hours working with abandoned or sick animals in our community taking them to vets, etc on my own personal time outside of having two small businesses and working part time.  It is easier to write comments than to go to an actual meeting in some cases, but then it depends what one chooses to do with their spare time if they have any.  I can't remember the last time I did something  outside of volunteer work for my community.  Including using a 'comments' section which invites folks to comment on a particular story.  Since I'm an educator particularly of language, I feel an OCD thing to suggest an edit to the post:  "their opinions" not "there opinions".   This is my contribution to the community today in addition to the other things I have planned.
Peggy Hatton 13 days ago
This is hard. I feel for the transgender kid...he's basically being told he's not a dude, but he feels like he is. Would the other guys object to the transgendered kid using the restroom? Probably not. Kids today are much more accepting than our generation. 

I have to admit that I cannot quite wrap my head around all of this gender indentity stuff. In my day, you were fish or fowl. Today, it seems every other kid is something other than a straight male of female. The kids they day seem confused. 

Glad I'm old. 
tommy hornsby 13 days ago
When you enroll in school, you check a box that says male or female. You put your address down, however, the school needs proof, so you give them a power bill or something.  I have lived in the same house for five years while my son was in elementary school, he will now go to the same middle school as his classmates which they are zoned for. The school still needed proof, I lived there.  This time a power bill was not enough, I needed a title to my house or mortgage bill.  I went to the school three times just to prove my residents.  Make this person, prove their gender and see how that goes.  They would not take my word for it in that I have not moved in five years so lets not take this word because they feel like a boy today.
Sponger2 Harvell 13 days ago
Hold on PC folks. Can't you just feel the heartbreak over this obviously confused child? Doesn't like with the parts he, she, or "whatever" was born with but through the miracle of modern science, and probably with government assistance can decide which set of peripherals one wants to have. RIdiculous. Now the world has to bend to these whims. Drop him back in 1941 and see how this balderdash would fly.. 
Teej Buhlay 13 days ago
We can protect our kids from alcoholics, addicts, and other types of deviant behavior but then questioned about levels of tolerance when it comes to these mental health issues.  The classroom is one thing, the bathroom is another.  If every bathroom has a closed door stall, it might gain some traction.    
Teej Buhlay 13 days ago
Ill also be more convinced after they have had their corrective surgery.  Sew things up or chop stuff off and its likely to cause much less issues.  Until then, I question why someone is transgender but keeps their natural reproductive organs.  
Ted Combs 12 days ago
Many transgender people can not afford the surgeries you are trying to mandate they have due to insurance refusing to cover any of it. Also, some people have medical conditions that preclude them from being able to medically transition. There are often long wait times for these surgeries. For instance a transwoman (assigned male at birth woman) who wants to go to Portland for a vaginoplasty has a three year waiting period because of a lack of sufficient doctors who can perform this highly complex surgery. So what you are saying is that someone has to not only have come to terms with their identity but have saved up tens of thousands of dollars for surgery and have waited for an available surgery date before they can use the bathroom in public since they likely will have been on hormones for years at this point and, unless you look in their pants, will appear to be the gender that you are saying they can't go into the bathroom of.
tommy hornsby 12 days ago
it is important to me to have a boat, house, car, gifts for my wife and kids and nice clothes. Therefore, I work an extra job, I get a personal loan, ask family for money, save my money until I can offered it.  Those things are material things that come every few years but I manage to get them.  Are you telling me that a complete lifestyle change that has been on someone's mind for many many years, they have not taken steps to save the money and schedule it with enough time? Instead you and them want to blame the insurance companies and doctors? That is the epitome of self-centered, entitlement attitude that is breaking down the moral and ethical fabric of todays youth and society.
Tony Puleo 12 days ago
It's not nice to fool with mother nature.....  I see a troubled life ahead for this person because they will think they can complain about whatever they want and will feel the world owes them something. 
Bonnie Hendrix 12 days ago
Wonder why comments I know people have written in response to this article, which contain no disparaging remarks, profanity or insults, are not posted? Could it be they want it all to appear one-sided?
 

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Tue, 07/25/2017 - 05:41