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Debate over transgender policy at the Lee County School District

Posted at 12:19 AM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 00:19:12-04

LEE COUNTY — Hundreds came out to voice their support and concern over the Lee County School District’s policy regarding transgender students.

The School Board is considering changing that policy. Staff have recommended not including a controversial LGBTQ+ poster in next year's Code of Conduct, and staff also recommend a "Revision of the guidance to be more inclusive of all students."

The meeting Monday evening started off with one man standing up and speaking out of turn.

“No boys in the girls' rooms!” yelled the man, who was eventually escorted out by deputies.

Outside, crowds had formed supporting and opposing the School District's policy toward transgender students.

“People should be able to use the bathroom that they are comfortable in. There has been zero cases of sexual assault in a female bathroom by a transgender female," said Evan Smith, who said he came to be an ally to transgender students.

“It is not the right of the School District to determine morality for children. It is the right of the parents to determine morality for their children," said Denise Nicestrom, who opposes any policy that allows children of the same biological sex use the same bathroom.

The debate circles around a poster the District posted in schools starting last year:

LGBTQ+ Poster
The LGBTQ+ poster Lee County has posted in several schools

The poster says in part "All students are allowed to access the restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity."

Inside the meeting, Board Member Chris Patricca sought clarification from District staff.

"So I can feel confident now that my sons will be changing in a locker room with other biological boys, and my daughter will be changing in a locker room with other biological girls. Is that a fair assessment?" said Patricca.

"At this time, that is a fair assessment," said Director of Constituent Services Brian Mangan.

Once the public was allowed to comment, a woman who has a transgender son spoke directly to the board.

“To remove this poster now after it has already been put into place and while it is being used as the standard would have a very negative impact," said Crystal Czyscon.

Czyscon said the poster made her son feel accepted, but hearing so many people oppose it has changed that.

“He said to me you know mommy, I hope that college helps me believe in school again, because he’s so discouraged, he’s thinking about dropping out and playing video games," said Czyscon.

The Board did not make any policy decisions or changes Monday night.