HILLSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) – In the latest standoff over transgender student rights in Virginia, the Carroll County School Board is trying something new. On Tuesday evening, the board of directors decided to get rid of gendered toilets in middle and high schools in the county. The more than 100 bathrooms would be converted from “male” and “female only” to single occupancy facilities.
“I know there is a cost associated with this, but all students deserve to be private when using the restroom,” said Carroll County Superintendent Dr. Mark Burnette.
According to Burnette, the neighborhood has already consulted an architect. The conversion would cost around $ 2.1 million – money that would have to come from the county.
“We will contact our supervisory board to try to get funding from them,” Burnette said.
The vote comes as districts across the region grapple with how to approach the state’s new directions, so-called “model policies on transgender students.” These policies govern the pronouns school staff should use with a transgender student, so a district can inform parents about a student’s chosen gender identity and the use of washrooms and locker rooms, among other things.
The policies, along with outrage against critical race theory, have drawn hundreds of people to school board meetings across the state, including in Floyd, Botetourt, Pulaski and Franklin counties.
On Tuesday, more than 100 parents, students and community members attended the Carroll County School Board meeting. The crowd was so large that it spilled out into the hallway and filled an overflow room at the Carroll County Government Center.
Almost all spoke against the model policies, and more than one spoke against the school board bathroom plan.
“That’s over $ 2 million that we could use to do other things with our kids,” said Jeff Pickett, pastor at Hillsville Pentecostal Holiness Church.
“Here at the county recreation department, there was not enough money to buy ball bats to play church league softball. But you want the county to find $ 2 million to fix those bathrooms? Said fellow resident Doug Goad.
Others were more forgiving. “You are in a difficult situation,” Karl Perkins told the board. “You have moved in the right direction. ”
Council members noted that their hands have been tied by recent cases in Federal Court, including a case involving Gloucester County schools. There, the court found that a Gloucester School Board policy prohibiting a transgender student from using the toilet that matched their gender identity was unconstitutional.
After Tuesday night’s vote, Superintendent. Burnette said the district had taken preliminary steps to convert middle and high school bathrooms. Other measures will have to await the county supervisory board.
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