HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A special-called Horry County School Board meeting has been scheduled for Monday, May 2, at 11:45 a.m. to discuss Title IX.
School Board Chairman Joe DeFeo said he expects the board to decide to file an amicus brief to give support to a Virginia school district in its appeal of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling on Title IX, requiring the district to allow students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, not necessarily the gender they were born with.
Last week, that federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia sided with a transgender teen, overturning a ruling barring him from using the boys' restroom because he was born as a female.
"I have no issue if you want to identify as whatever you want to identify with," DeFeo said. "But other people have a right to their privacy also. I believe they have a right if they want to go in the restroom that only their biological gender is present."
The meeting will be at the district office. It will not include a public input session because DeFeo said that doesn't follow protocol for special-called meetings. He said people can have their voices heard by contacting the school board members prior to the meeting.
The announcement of the Monday HCS board meeting comes one day after the district announced they were complying with the federal mandate, and would allow a transgender male student to use the boys' bathroom after he was suspended for doing so in the fall of 2015.
The Transgender Law Center, who was representing the student's family, and threatened a lawsuit against the district if they did not allow the student to use the boys' bathroom, initially praised the district for complying with the Title IX law as did the student, R., and his mother, Lynne.
"He was just smiling," Lynne said. "Just beaming. I don't think he really knows how to put it into words yet."
The district also agreed to remove R.'s suspension from his record, which Lynne said will help him in the future.
"In applying to colleges and jobs, this sort of stuff would show up then he would have to explain what happened which would effectively out him," she said.
She was initially excited to hear the commitment to protect other transgender students in the school district.
"This whole bathroom thing is just a deterrent from their education, so let's get back to focusing on what they should be focusing on," Lynne said.
After hearing the district may seek to appeal the law, Lynne released this statement:
"As a parent, we all want our children to feel safe and supported at school," she said. "No child should be harassed and discriminated against by the very people responsible for his education."
Alison Pennington, an attorney with Transgender Law Center, released the following statement:
"We are disappointed to hear that the school district might so quickly be reconsidering their commitment to supporting transgender students. We know from school districts across the country that all students, including transgender students, fare best in schools that do not model discrimination and bias. Horry County has an opportunity to do the right thing here and we hope they stand by their decision to create a safe and accepting school environment for all students."