Pasco County Schools will be making a change in its practices regarding restroom use by students on the district’s campuses.
Superintendent Kurt Browning announced, at the Pasco County School Board’s Jan. 3 meeting, a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th circuit is prompting the district to change its practice regarding student restroom use.
The case — Drew Adams vs. the School Board of Johns County — involved if it was constitutional to separate school bathrooms based on biological sex and whether doing so violated Title IX.
The federal appeals court found that assigning restroom use based on biological sex “passes constitutional muster and comports with Title IX.”
The case involved a student who was born as a girl, but identified as a boy. The case challenged a school district policy requiring students to use bathrooms based on their biological gender or to use gender-neutral bathrooms. The district did not allow bathroom use based on gender identity.
Browning told school board members: “The full appeals court overturned the trial court’s decision, which has been the controlling law, until this newest decision was rendered.
“Due to this court’s ruling, the Pasco district will be updating our practices regarding the use of student restrooms to align with this new decision.
“As superintendent, I have directed staff to, within 30 days, update any existing procedures and guidelines; begin meeting with any impacted students and parents; meet with our principals and student services staff, regarding the revised use of restroom practices.
“The expectation moving forward will be that students use restroom facilities that correspond to the biological sex at birth.
“I also want the board to be aware that any student wishing to use an alternative restroom will be able to seek an accommodation to utilize a private restroom at their school.
“I realize that this change in practice may not sit well with some students and some adults, but it is important to note that we, as a district, and as elected officials, are required to abide by the laws of the state of Florida and those of the United States.
“This change in district practice and procedure does both of those.”
“I will continue to update the board, as to our progress in implementing these changes, but my hope is that over the next 30 days, most of those changes will be in effect,” Browning said.
On another topic, Don Peace, president of United School Employees of Pasco, informed the board that negotiations between the school district and union are approaching a conclusion and he hopes the proposed contract can be ratified soon.
He also told board members the union is eager to hold conversations regarding the distribution of funds raised through a referendum approved by voters to improve employee salaries.
“We are hopeful that the plan that we agree to will entice highly qualified individuals to come to work in Pasco County and can help fill the 230 or so jobs still vacant in this district.
“If we can agree on a plan that respects experience, loyalty and longevity, I do believe it will go a long way toward filling the vacancies that we still have,” Peace said.
“We must also be cognizant to respect employees’ time,” the union leader added. “There is far too much being implemented by either the state or the district which cuts into student instructional time.
“The primary reason that every true educator gets into the profession — yes, I said, profession — is to educate tomorrow’s leaders, today. Teachers are the foundation of all future job opportunities.
“We grow our students by delivering high quality instruction. We must get to a place, locally here in Pasco, and in our state, where we are attentive to the needs of those professionals when they speak out.
“Communication, as we heard from the Gallup Poll, can be and must be improved, at both the state and the local levels,” Peace said.
Published January 11, 2023