Marion school board refuses to heed federal order on bathrooms

- The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday sent letters to every public school district in the nation, ordering them to allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker rooms that match their chosen gender identity.

Kelly King, a Marion County School Board member, said, “I stand firm that a student should use the restroom with their natural born sex identity, what they were naturally born with, or the alternative comparable restroom."

In April, the Marion County School Board voted to require students to use the bathroom of the gender they were born with, or use a neutral, single-stall restroom. Some board members say they are standing by that decision, despite President Obama’s directive.

King explained, "I'm looking to protect the privacy of all students. I don't feel we're being unreasonable when we ask a student that identifies with another gender to use the alternate bathroom. It's a single stall, it's safe in there. They have privacy"

There is one board member who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the rest.  School board Chairman Bobby James explained, “My thought is clear. I’m the lone dissenting voter that says we have to comply with what the rules are, what the law is.”  James went on to say, “My thoughts on this is we needs to uphold the laws of this country. My personal opinion, that’s irrelevant.”

The federal government has threatened to pull Federal funding from districts that do not allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.   Marion County Schools currently receive about $57 Million in federal funding --  about 10 to 15 percent of this year’s budget.

Kevin Christian, spokesperson for Marion County Public Schools, said,  "I really think this is going to play out in the court system, in the long haul."

The next school board meeting is slated for Thursday May 19 at 9 a.m.

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