HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Horry County Schools board will work on a case-by-case basis as it pertains to transgender students and the restrooms they use.
This came during a special-called school board meeting Monday night.
Previously, the board decided to continue to follow Title IX as it had been decided by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and allow transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.
According to a statement read at Monday's meeting, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on its ruling on May 3 that stated transgender students must be allowed to use restrooms corresponding to their gender identity.
The stay was issued due to a pending review of the case by the court, the statement read.
"Therefore, it appears the implementation of the Title IX interpretation concerning transgender students and their use of the restroom based upon the gender with which they identify is still unresolved by the Courts," according to the statement.
The school board members met in executive session Monday night for an hour to receive legal advice about Title IX.
After that executive session, the school board chairman announced no action was taken and he released the statement that originally left people in the audience thinking the board will continue on the path it set last week, which was to comply with the Title IX ruling allowing transgender students to use the bathroom they identify with while also supporting the appeal of that ruling.
However, after the meeting school board chairman Joe DeFeo told WMBF News bathroom use for transgender students is back to being decided on a case-by-case basis.
"A stay was issued from the Fourth Circuit, so basically everything is back to square one as far as any issues or concerns," DeFeo said.
DeFeo added that's why the district can handle transgender student bathroom use on a case-by-case basis like the district had been doing before the Title IX ruling without taking any direct action on the issue.
"The board needed to be informed of that and if they decided to do anything different we could of course address that. (We) just kind of decided to address everything in the statement," he said. "We're going to be more concerned about privacy issues than we are going to be about somebody's individual thoughts and needs, but we will accommodate everybody in every way that we possibly can."
Last week, the board unanimously decided to file a brief in support of a Virginia school district's legal challenge to the Title IX decision in order to get it overturned, and possibly allow the district to instead force transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificates.
Dozens of residents packed the boardroom, and while the board was in executive session, a heated debate took place over the transgender bathroom issue, with many attendees breaking into Christian hymns and the Lord's Prayer at times.
Last year, a transgender Horry County Schools high school student was suspended after he was "caught" using the men's room, and was asked to instead use the bathroom in the nurse's office. After the Transgender Law Center threatened legal action on behalf of the student, the district clarified its position, and said the student would be allowed to use the men's room, in accordance with the Title IX ruling.
Horry County School officials fear a lawsuit could be inevitable in the midst of the transgender bathroom debate because with a decision you can't please everyone. Chairman DeFeo said he knows there are transgender students in Horry County's school system, but most aren't recognized as transgender. He says most transgender students are OK with the accommodations provided to them...but it only takes one to file a lawsuit.
School officials want the community to focus on the efforts for Horry County's quality of education and leave educators in charge of what they're trained to do...to teach.