Leon County School Board District Two Candidates Support Transgender Students' Rights

Jul 14, 2016

Both candidates for Leon County School Board District Two say they would work together with schools to protect the rights of transgender students.

In May, the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice mandated public schools to allow students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. The New York Times reports 21 states have sued against the mandate since.

However, Former Fairview Middle School Principal Roger Pinholster supports the Departments’ call to address transgender students’ rights.

He says Leon County Schools and their principals put a detailed protocol in place for these situations.

This was put in place in response to a gender-neutral Fairview student who withdrew from the school after being reprimanded for wearing a dress.

All they need to do now, Pinholster says, is put it to practice.

“I don’t think as principals we’re all comfortable with everybody," he says. "When we’re comfortable and trust each other most of those problems are not going to go to the school board (and) are not going to make the paper, because we’re going to work together as human beings to make sure every child has a chance to learn. I think it’s a matter of building trust and applying the policy.”

However, Pinholster does say the district needs to keep these students in mind when building new facilities.

“You know we just built a gym at Sail and a gym at Second Chance," he says. "I don’t think either one of them had addressed that issue. They just built the traditional restrooms and bathrooms.”

While Former Sail High School Principal Rosanne Wood has experienced this situation head on.

“I dealt with this as a principal, as I said I was principal for 32 years," she says. "Many years ago we had a transgender student and it was new to us...So, what we did first of all is I gave him the key to the staff bathroom, because that was what worked for him and was comfortable. So, I think at the school level this isn’t a huge issue, but when it comes we need to address it.”

Both candidates spoke on WFSU’s Political Perspectives on Thursday. Listen to the entire podcast on here.