ORLANDO– The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on the rights of transgender students to use school restrooms in a Kansas case that could affect schools around the nation. Arguments are set for March 28.
A Virginia school district’s decision to prevent a high school student from using the bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity sparked this fire. The student appealed and after an appeals court sided with him, the school district appealed, specifically challenging the guidelines set by former President Barrack Obama that required schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms of their gender instead of their sex at birth.
While the case is still on appeal, the Kansas State Board of Education voted last year to ignore the Obama directive, arguing local schools are best suited to decide how to handle issues transgender students face.
Including Kansas, a total of 23 states have joined in the challenge to the guidelines.
Here in Florida, opinions seem equally split. In an informal online poll conducted by the Advocate from July 2016 through January 2017, we asked two questions:
1) whether people who are transgender should be allowed to use the public bathrooms of the gender they identify with– or not; and
2) whether Public schools should be required to allow people who are transgender to use the public bathrooms of the gender they identify with.
The first question was broad enough to include transgender people of all ages, and not related to public schools. The second was specifically focused on the Obama directive, which is the issue before the Court.
With a total of 890 votes cast, here’s how the percentages stacked up:
Should people who are transgender be allowed to use bathrooms of their current gender identities (430 votes cast):
Yes – 58.13%
No – 39.53%
Not sure – 2.34%
Should public schools be required to allow students who are transgender to use bathrooms of their current gender identities (460 votes cast):
Yes – 43.48%
No – 54.35%
Not sure – 2.17%
The poll was not scientific. There is no way to determine if the same people voted on each of the questions, so we cannot say to what extent voters who believe transgender people should be allowed to use the bathrooms of their gender identities also believe public schools should be required to mandate it. Still, the votes cast are a good indication of the deep division that exists on the subject and the impact of taking the issue inside the public schools.
An actual decision by the Supreme Court decision is not expected until much later this year.