A Florida school superintendent in very conservative coastal Sarasota County is implementing a radically leftist transgender policy without public input or a vote of the School Board, a policy that among other things strips parents of their right to know what their child is doing in school and turns over a fundamental right of parenting to the government.
At the recommendation of the Sarasota County School District’s LGBTQI Task Force, School Superintendent Todd Bowden is issuing “guidelines” today to govern how the district’s more than 50 public schools handle transgender and gender questioning students — starting as young as kindergarten.
This surreptitious radicalization of local policy comes at the very moment that the Trump administration is considering rolling back the Obama administration’s baseless, un-scientific and lawless expansion of Title IX, the federal civil-rights statute that bans sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. Obama also did that very quietly in 2014, on his own, after Congress failed to get it changed to Obama’s satisfaction.
These are called “guidelines” presumably because an actual policy would have to go through the School Board and be subject to public hearings and public input. (The tactic is akin to when President Obama created a treaty with Iran over nuclear weapons, but called it an “agreement” to bypass the need for Senate ratification.)
Superintendent Bowden appears to be using the Obama playbook on the issue.
But while called guidelines in practice it is a policy, and it implements a full-blown transgender protocol allowing students to use whichever bathroom and locker room corresponds with the gender they “identify” as, forces everyone else to use the pronoun of the students’ choice — including “their” if they are just not sure— and checks the box of everything LGBTQI activists want.
The policy also says that parents must not be informed of their child’s decision to identify as a different gender. The student’s gender identity will be accommodated entirely in the school, which activists and some school leaders claim is a “safer” environment than the home.
If John wants to be known as Sue, his teachers and all staff must call him that. But the parents cannot be informed. John/Sue can use the girls’ bathroom, the girls’ locker room, and participate as a girl in extracurricular activities. But the parents cannot be informed. It’s all up to the child and school.
The just-released document obtained by The Revolutionary Act, entitled “Creating Safe Schools for All Students: Gender Diverse Student Guidelines,” reads: “It is up to the student, and the student alone, to share her/his/their identity.” No parents allowed.
This policy was intended to be quietly rolled out Friday to principals overseeing 43,000 students, until one courageous School Board member was so outraged that she went public with it.
“That is completely stripping the rights of families, parents and/or guardians to be a part of this discussion,” said School Board Chairman Bridget Ziegler. “The district has no place in cutting out parents.”
If a student needs an aspirin, they need parental permission. If they want to sit out the Pledge of Allegiance, they need written permission of the parents. But if their son wants to change his gender and identify as a girl at school and use the girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms, then the parent must not even be told.
Remember, there was no vote or discussion by the elected Board, and no public or community input — in a county where Republicans outnumber Democrats 130,000 to 93,000 as of the 2016 election and that Trump won in a landslide. It was meant to be such a quiet rollout that many parents would not even be aware of it. (Part of this is due to the peculiar breakdown of the so-called “non-partisan” Board, which is 4-1 Republican, but 3-2 puppet-like supporters of the superintendent.)
Here are the core controversial parts of the new policy. Read the language. These are not guidelines, they are policy rules.
PRONOUNS: “A transgender student shall be addressed by the name and gender requested. All relevant teachers and administrators and staff shall be informed of a transgender student’s name and gender pronoun. The student’s name and gender pronoun does not need to correspond to the student’s birth certificate and other official records. 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.”
At the elementary level, the parents are involved only if the child informs them. School leaders are blocked from doing so.
BATHROOMS: “All students, who want to use the restroom in accordance with their consistently asserted gender identity, will be provided the available accommodation that best meets the needs and privacy concerns.”
Of course, this is a serious problem all on its own. But implementation will also be problematic, because in the open-ended forms of gender identity allowed in the guidelines there is “non-binary,” which “refers to anyone who does not exclusively identify as male or female. This term can include multiple gender identities, not limited to gender fluid.”
So apparently any bathroom can be used, based on the feelings of the moment?
LOCKER ROOMS: “All students, who want to use the locker room in accordance with their consistently asserted gender identity, will be provided the available accommodation that best meets the needs and privacy concerns.”
FIELD TRIPS: “Day field trips and overnight field trips are opportunities for educational endeavors and social engagements and it is important to make sure that transgender students have both components. This can require some planning to ensure affirmed name, gender pronouns, room assignments, chaperones and showers are accurate and aligned with the student’s core gender identity. School administration will directly guide the process. Administration will review case by case to determine how to work with all parties involved.”
Because the School Board elections were just completed in the Florida primary, there is little that can be done to overturn this superintendent-driven policy. But expect a strong reaction from the conservative community on the loss of parental rights with their own children.
Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.