Mar 27, 2014 1:30 AM by Rebecca Taylor

TUSD: Transgender students allowed to use whichever bathroom they identify with

TUCSON - A workshop on gender identity was held Wednesday night at Anna Henry Elementary.

Concerns have been raised, by some parents over which bathrooms transgender students should use. The subject was not directly address at Wednesday's meeting, but the school's principal did sit down with News 4 Tucson's Rebecca Taylor.

We were the first to report Tuesday night that the TUSD governing board voted to update its non-discrimination policy, to include gender identity and expression. The principal at Henry Elementary says his school already operates that way.

When directly asked which bathroom, transgender students are encouraged to use Principal John Bellisario answers, "we have multiple restrooms, we have boys restrooms we have girls restrooms, we have unisex restrooms, and the children can use the restroom they identify with. That's based on case law all over the country."

That's not sitting well with some parents. Susan Wright says transgender students should use the staff restroom, not go in the same bathroom as her boy, or she requests that the urinals be removed.

"My child's privacy was infringed upon. If he doesn't want his own mother in the bathroom with him, he's certainly not going to want one of his peers," says Wright.

"I just don't see what the problem is, they're kids," says Sarah Potvin, one of 25 parents who attended the gender identity workshop.

Potvin feels all students should be treated the same. "I thought it was very educational, it also enraged me as a parent, for other people to be speaking on behalf of what my child's needs are."

Kim Pearson with Trans Youth Family Allies is a national expert on transgender youth. TUSD invited her to lead the workshop. She says in America there are no laws on the books regarding restroom use, only social convention. Instead of accommodating transgender students, she says kids and their parents want equality.

"They want their children to have an equal opportunity and equal life, they want their kids to be happy and productive members of society, which is really what all parents want," says Pearson.

A leadership director with TUSD says it's a district wide policy to allow transgender students to use whichever bathroom they identify with.


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