District 117 addresses President Obama’s transgender school bathroom guidelines

By Ryne Turke on May 20, 2016 at 7:25am

Jacksonville School District 117’s Superintendent is addressing the Obama administration’s announcement, which directs public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity.

Under the guidelines, schools that receive federal money are to treat students consistent with their gender identity, even if their records indicate a different sex. Schools must also allow students to access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity and protect each student’s privacy related to their transgender status.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek was informed of the Obama administration’s decision on Friday via email and he forwarded the email to the administrators in every District 117 building so “plans can be developed on how we will respond” as soon as possible.

“So right now it is still boys go to boy bathrooms and girls go to girl bathrooms,” asked WLDS-WEAI News.

“Correct. Parents must first come in with a child and officially request that the student be identified with the gender they identify with. From that moment it would initiate how the district needs to respond legally. What we are doing right now is preparing for if that does happen and what options do we have,” says Ptacek.

Ptacek provided one example District 117 has looked into.

“Solitary bathrooms being used as a non-male or female bathroom, just a generic bathroom. Therefore, any student, teacher and staff member could go into that bathroom and not really have to deal with any of the identity issues,” Ptacek says.

Ptacek stressed the district is “both responsible for the needs of the students in this situation” and responding to the law.

“I know this is a very emotional issue for people in all communities, including our communities, who see this from different sides. The district responds predominately to what is established by law and code,” notes Ptacek.

According to Ptacek, District 117 has already made changes in the schools regarding harassment and discrimination of transgender students and staff.