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Sarasota County School District Will Keep Transgender Student Guidelines

Sarasota High School
Sarasota County Schools
The Sarasota County School District has debated the transgender student issue since 2016.

The Sarasota County School Board has voted to keep its new gender guidelines following weeks of acrimony over the issue of parental notification.

The instructions were sent to Sarasota County schools in October.

The guidelines state: "It is up to the student, and the student alone, to share her/his/their identity. In the case of elementary-age students, often the student and parent are involved, however, this is on a case by case basis."

The new written procedures will allow transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds to their preferred gender identity and names. 

Transgender students will also be addressed by the names and pronouns requested, even if they do not match official records.

Residents weighed in on the guidelines at the school board’s meeting on Tuesday.

Nearly 60 people signed up to speak and public comment lasted for nearly 3 hours.

Many supported the district’s decision to issue procedures on transgender students. But opponents complained of government overreach.

"It appears as though major vital decisions are being made by the school system in regards to our children without parents being informed, voted upon, nor brought to the public eye in a timely fashion,” said Robert Beckner of Sarasota. “School policy is being made for our kids and parents have the right to be informed before these decisions are made."

Parent Vanessa Nichols said she was the proud parent of a 4th grade transgender student and thanked officials who worked on the guidelines.

"I want to wholeheartedly thank all of you that were on the right side of history with this,” she said. “I thank you from the bottom of my soul for keeping my son safe and allowing him equity in school."

During the meeting, School Board Chair Bridget Ziegler asked for a vote to adjust language to include parental notification.

The board voted 3 to 2 to keep the guidelines as written.  

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