Which bathroom should transgender students use? School district debates

PICKENS COUNTY, Ga. — At a school board meeting this week, dozens of parents showed up to hear what the school board had to say about transgender students and bathrooms.

The Pickens County School District says it will follow the law on this issue, even though the superintendent says he's gotten threats about it.

Superintendent Carlton Wilson told Channel 2's Lori Wilson that his district will follow the law, even if it makes some people uncomfortable.

"In situations like this, where it's so emotionally stressed, you get some people that can be pretty crazy, and take it very serious on either side," Wilson said.

Wilson says he has several transgender students in his district. In the past, they have just been allowed to use teacher restrooms, but this year is different. He says a boy who transitioned from a girl and his parents say separate is not equal.

"This is the first time that a student has challenged us to use the male restroom," said Wilson. "Until now, it's been a compromise."

It's an issue that many people in Pickens County have strong feelings about.

"They're just going to have to monitor the bathrooms," said Mary Anne Rankenburg, "The kids are going to do what they're going to do."


"There are multiple bathrooms throughout schools," said parent Becky Hernandez. "Make one set your transgender bathrooms and keep the other ones so everyone has an option."

Wilson says bathroom monitors will now be extra vigilant to make sure there is no harassment.
"Every one of these students is our students," said Wilson. "They're all going through something in their lives and they need to be nurtured and loved."

Wilson points to a precedent in the issue, a case in Florida that ruled students must be allowed to use the restroom assigned to the gender they identify with. He says understands it's an emotional issue for some, a moral issue for others, but his main concern is making sure all of his students are safe.

"That person is identifying with that sex," said Rachel Evans. "I don't think they're going to invade anybody else's privacy. They just want to go to the restroom and be treated like everyone else."

"I'm not against the transgender students," said Hernandez. "I want to make sure everybody's safe."
"This world has a lot bigger problems than transgenders is what I think," said Rankenburg.

There will be a meeting dedicated to the transgender bathroom issue on Monday, October 14 at 6 p.m. at Pickens High School. The superintendent says he expects hundreds of people to attend. The law that set the precedent for transgender student bathroom use is Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County, Florida. It is up for appeal on December 2nd.