COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — A Central Ohio parent claimed the federal law meant to protect her daughters is now violating their rights as the district allows a biologically male student who identifies as female to use the girls’ restroom.
The issue of transgender students came to a head at the last Olentangy Local School District board meeting.
Julie Szymanski, the parent of two elementary school-aged girls said her daughters described to her what happened about a month ago at school.
“They went into the restroom and there was a little boy in the restroom, dressed like a little girl,” she said. “And they immediately felt very uncomfortable.”
Now, she said, her daughters are afraid to use the restroom at school.
“They feel uncomfortable and afraid to go into the restroom for fear of being walked in on by the biological boy,” she said.
The issue was raised by parents at the last school board meeting and led to cheering from parents on hand. One parent said she wanted the district to stick to academics.
“We trust you to develop our children academically and leave the rest to us, please,” she said.
“We are teaching the academics, but students need support in all areas in order to focus on the academics,” said Krista Davis, a spokeswoman for Olentangy schools.
Davis said federal law, specifically what’s known as Title IX, allows and requires the special arrangement for the transgender student.
“Transgender students are a protected class, so any student who identifies as a gender different than their biological gender assigned at birth is in a protected class,” she said.
The transgender issue also came up with surveys the district gave students recently, about their well-being and about suicide prevention. One of the surveys asked students about their gender identity and had “transgender male” and “transgender female” as options.
Parents at the board meeting accused the district of administering the surveys without parental permission, which the district denies.
“Both of these surveys absolutely are only given when a parent gives permission,” Davis said. “Our surveys are opt-in only.”
Szymanski said she understands that the district is trying to be inclusive.
“They want to make sure that they’re honoring everybody’s rights and that they don't discriminate against anyone group of people,” she said. But she also feels like it means her daughters are being discriminated against.
“But what makes me uncomfortable is that my daughters feel that they have no privacy or dignity or modesty in the restroom anymore," she said.