Education

Horry County Schools may support appeal of federal transgender bathroom law

Horry Schools official: We acted in a proper manner

Joe DeFeo, Horry County Board of Education chairman, said the district acted appropriately regarding transgender students and Title IX compliance.
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Joe DeFeo, Horry County Board of Education chairman, said the district acted appropriately regarding transgender students and Title IX compliance.

Horry County Schools may join an appeal requiring the district to allow students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify, just days after a transgender legal agency threatened to sue the district.

A specially-called Board of Education meeting – scheduled for Monday– might lead to the district supporting a Virginia appeal requiring the district to allow students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. Since the district cannot join the appeal – since they were not part of the lawsuit – they will probably file an amicus curiae brief to shows support for the Virginia district.

The specially-called meeting is Monday, May 2 at 11:45 a.m. at the district office: 335 Four Mile Rd., Conway

“We would like to see that ruling overturned,” said Joe DeFeo, board of education chairman.

A Richmond, V.A. federal appeals court sided last week with a transgender teenager, overturning a ruling barring him from using the boys' restroom because he was born female.

The meeting comes just days after Horry County Schools was threatened with a lawsuit by the Transgender Law Center regarding a Socastee High School senior who was banned from using the bathroom consistent with his gender identity. The student was suspended in January, but the district agreed Thursday to let the student – identified as “R” – to use the boys’ bathroom during his senior year.

An amicus curiae brief advises the court of any additional information or arguments worth considering, and usually shows support for one side. DeFeo said the board had discussed joining the appeal since the impending lawsuit, but needed time to research and have the district’s lawyers look over everything before making a decision.

The board met in executive session for over an hour on Monday discussing Title IX, but no actions were taken that night.

“There was a definite desire for the board to file an amicus brief, but we could not do that on Monday night,” DeFeo said.

A letter from the legal center – sent on April 21 – threatened legal action if the district did not reverse course and allow “R” to use the bathroom according to his identifying gender. Horry County Schools had until Wednesday to respond to the legal center’s letter, or the center would “evaluate all legal options, including filing a lawsuit in federal court,” according to the letter from the center’s staff attorney Alison Pennington.

We’re not encouraging people to be there or not be there. We only have public comments during our regular meetings, but if you want to be there, absolutely.

Joe DeFeo, board of education chairman

Horry County Schools agreed to allow the student into the boys’ bathroom and also agreed to remove the suspension from “R’s” record, inform faculty and staff of their responsibility to use pronouns consistent with transgender students’ gender identities, and update classroom attendance rosters to reflect a student’s preferred name, DeFeo confirmed.

Since the district’s reversal, some parents have expressed outrage on social media sites about the adherence to Title IX regulations. DeFeo said that though there will be no public comments during the specially-called meeting, he already knows how the community feels about the issue.

“There’s emails, there’s phone calls, we know the feeling of the community,” DeFeo said. “We’re going to do what we’re going to do.”

As Katherine Boone, 18, recovered from the surgery that changed her into a female, she and her family talked about what they all went through.

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