Clay County school board to consider controversial bathroom policy

Policy would require students, staff use sex-segregated bathrooms associated with their sex assigned at birth

Clay County school leaders are set to vote on a policy that would ban transgender students from using the bathroom associated with their gender identity.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – Clay County school leaders are set to vote on a policy that would ban transgender students from using the bathroom associated with their gender identity.

The school board for Clay County Public Schools will vote Thursday on whether to consider the proposal, which would shift gender-segregated bathrooms to sex-segregated bathrooms, meaning students could use only the bathroom matching the sex they were assigned at birth, a move that would exclusively impact transgender students.

If the board moves forward with the proposal Thursday, the five members will vote on whether to adopt the measure after a public hearing on June 1 at 6 p.m. in the boardroom at the Teacher In-service Training Center at Fleming Island High School.

Effectively, this is already in practice within Clay County schools, a spokesperson said. The measure would simply codify it into school district policy.

“The proposed amendments are intended to simplify, update, and ensure alignment of School Board Policies with state law, federal law, State Board of Education Rules, and other applicable rules and regulations,” the proposal states.

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News4JAX asked the proposal’s sponsor, District 1 board member Erin Skipper, as well as the other board members and superintendent, about the motivation for such a rule and which “rules and regulations” applied here. They have not responded, but a school district spokesperson released this statement:

“Clay County District Schools’ current procedure is for students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their assigned sex at birth. For students who need accommodations, the school leadership works directly with the parents and the student. The School Board’s proposed bathroom policy would align our current best practices with a board policy.”

Those “accommodations” mean that a transgender student, with permission from administrators, would be allowed to use single-stall -- or non-gendered restrooms -- such as ADA-compliant ones, in lieu of the segregated facilities.

The policy follows a wave of state-level legislation that targets transgender affirmation, acceptance and visibility in Florida and other states with conservative majorities in their legislatures.

The idea to restrict restrooms to “birth-sex” only is not new. Many Florida districts and many districts in other states have passed similar policies, which human rights advocates say directly discriminate against transgender people.

News4JAX asked the district for the number of transgender students in the district right now, but that number was not available by the time of publication.

We also asked how the school verifies what sex a student was assigned at birth, but did not get a reply in time.

It’s likely that the district uses the personal medical records that the family of the student uses to enroll them in the school.