Pickens County Superintendent Carlton Wilson reversed a decision that allowed transgender students to use the restroom that best matches their gender identity, claiming the move had caused harassment, vandalism and even death threats.
The district had implemented the policy in the wake of the Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County case, which ruled that Drew Adams, a transgender student at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, could use the boys’ bathroom during his final year there.
Pickens County cited “many serious safety concerns” in a statement on Wednesday when it announced its decision to roll back the pro-trans gender policy.
“School board members, staff, and students have been threatened due to the administration’s implementation of Adams v. School Board of St. Johns County School District,” the Pickens County Board of Education said in a statement Wednesday. “There have been death threats, student harassment, and vandalism of school property.”
The district, which said it has several students who identify as transgender, said it will revert back to its previous bathroom procedures “until it can consult with law enforcement and other safety professionals so that these concerns can be addressed.” The reversal means transgender students will go back to using single-stall private bathrooms that were once reserved only for faculty members.
“The district understands and acknowledges that it has the responsibility to protect its staff and students. However, the district has concerns that it may not be able to meet these increased demands,” the statement said. “We ask that all of our stakeholders exercise patience and discretion until these matters can be resolved.”
John Tlumacki/Boston Globe via Getty Images, FILE
Sign for a gender-neutral bathroom at Boston City Hall, May 15, 2016.
“The way some called names has been embarrassing and disappointing to me, and that’s hard to get over,” Wilson said. “One of them said, ‘You know, situations like this brings out crazy people from both sides and sometimes people die.'”
“They’re kids. They are all kids and none deserved to be treated the way some of them have been treated,” he added.
Multiple federal courts have ruled students should be able to use bathrooms that match their preferred genders, but many Pickens County residents said they disapproved.
“I think the boys ought to go to the boys’ and girls ought to go to girls’ bathroom,” Pickens County resident Barbara Padgett told WSB.
Similarly, Becky Hernandez, a Pickens County parent, suggested a separate, but equal type of policy.
“There are multiple bathrooms throughout schools,” she said. “Make one set your transgender bathrooms and keep the other ones so everyone has an option.”
“I’m not against the transgender students. … I want to make sure everybody’s safe,” she added.