As background to this, Nate Quinn is a Sarasota County public school graduate who has fought for trans rights in Sarasota public schools since he came out as trans in high school. Sarasota’s current policy is to deal with trans students on an individual case-by-case basis, with school principals and administrators deciding whether or not to let each individual trans student use the correct facilities and have their names and pronouns respected.
Since the Sarasota County School Board has refused to develop a trans-inclusive policy to protect trans students, Nate created the Nate’s List campaign and has been regularly speaking at school board meetings for the last year. asking the board to meet the following three demands:
- Inclusive bathroom/locker room policies
- Add gender identity and expression to anti harassment policies
- Train staff and faculty on inclusion of trans identities
This is some pretty basic stuff that’s important for kids to be able to learn in a safe environment, but the Sarasota County School Board doesn’t see it that way. They’ve refused to act to protect trans students, including ignoring the Obama administration directive while that was in effect, and their inaction is contributing to an unsafe environment for trans students in Sarasota schools.
Up until this point, they’ve been generally polite about it even as they doggedly refused to do anything, but at Tuesday night’s school board meeting that changed.
I unfortunately had other commitments and wasn’t able to make the meeting, but was given this video by Léah Tiberini, a Manatee County student who was at the meeting in support. If you’ve ever been to local government meetings you know that when speakers go over the allotted time, the chair will usually give the speaker a few seconds to wrap up before banging the gavel and reminding them that their time is up, and it’s normally congenial. That’s not what happened here. The buzzer went off and as Tiberini described it, school board chair Caroline Zucker almost instantly waved over the police officer to escort Nate out of the room.
This is not normal.
It appears that the Sarasota School Board has decided that since the Trump administration rolled back President Obama’s advisory on trans student rights (an advisory they were busy ignoring), now the gloves are off. There is no pretense of politeness anymore, it’s now open antagonism towards those advocating for trans student rights.
The implications of this for trans students currently enrolled in Sarasota public schools is troubling. If the school board is willing to have police usher out an alumnus who is exercising his First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, how badly will trans kids in the schools going be treated now?
Contact the Sarasota County School Board to let them know that their treatment of Nate Quinn was unacceptable, and to demand the adoption of Nate’s List. The school board phone number is (941) 927-9000 ext. 31147, or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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