Pine View, a grades 2-12 magnet school in Osprey, Fla., is now the first school in Sarasota County to pass a transgender student inclusive bathroom policy.
The policy, adopted Jan. 14, allows transgender students in grades 6-12 to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with regardless of what gender they were assigned at birth. The bathrooms for elementary grade students will remain the same.
Pine View’s policy change comes after Nate Quinn, a 17-year-old transgender student, made multiple requests from both the school’s guidance counselor and principal to be able to use the men’s restroom.
Quinn’s first request was in January 2015 to guidance counselor Lynn Halcomb.
“I felt like she kind of understood but not enough to be helpful,” Quinn says.
Halcomb advised Quinn at the time that it would not be possible to change the policy and that he should prepare for bullying if he was going to move forward becoming Nate.
Quinn says he was still dealing with coming out to his parents and did not want to cause trouble at school so he did not press the issue further.
This school year, Quinn tried requesting again, this time taking it to the principal of the school, Dr. Stephen Covert. When Covert said no, when Quinn and his classmates decided to organize a call-in to the school.
“The original plan was to call Pine View and oppose their non-inclusive bathroom policy and encourage them to come up with a policy that would allow trans students to use the bathroom of their gender identity,” Quinn says.
A Facebook event was created and students, parents and anyone supportive in the community was encouraged to call Pine View on Jan. 25 to voice Quinn’s, and the other trans students’, request to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.
Quinn hoped for at least 100 supporters but the Facebook event spread through social media and tallied more than 400 commitments to call in.
Once the event started to gain attention, Pine View contacted Quinn’s father and requested a meeting.
“They brought me and my dad in and they told us about the new policy and they asked us about the call-in,” Quinn says.
Quinn’s victory at Pine View has come with some backlash.
“All the bullying has been online and it has been from students that I have never met and they come at me with my birth name and the wrong pronouns,” Quinn says. “No one has actually come up to me in school or said anything in person. Most students are very supportive as are the teachers. They use the right name and the right pronouns. So overall it has been pretty good.”
Quinn says that the call-in will continue but instead of calling Pine View everyone is encouraged to call the Sarasota County School Board.
“Now that we have the new bathroom policy we are asking the Sarasota County School Board to write a county wide policy that would prevent other schools from getting away with what Pine View has been getting away with,” Quinn says.
ANSWER Suncoast, a coalition of anti-war and civil rights organizations, have gotten behind Quinn and posted a list of demands for the Sarasota County School Board on their Facebook page. The demands, called Nate’s List, ask the school board to immediately adopt a trans-inclusive dress code policy, harassment policy and a bathroom/locker room policy.
Along with a change to the bathroom policy and ANSWER Suncoast’s demands, Quinn hopes the school board will encourage transgender education for the teachers and students of Pine View and all Sarasota County schools.
Quinn started the education himself with a Facebook post Jan. 19 saying, “By the way Dr. Covert (and many others) it’s trans/transgender people/girls/boys, not transgendered. No ED, no.”