Pasco parents petition for district to adopt facility policy for transgender students

Pasco County

Parents and religious leaders in Pasco County are petitioning the school board to adopt a formal policy that would require students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms assigned to the sex on their birth certificate. 

At least 100 proponents of the measure gathered at a town hall at New Port Richey’s First Baptist Church Monday where they assert the district is currently governing in a gray area, allowing transgender kids to use the facilities that match their gender identity. 

Organizers say at least 1,400 signatures had already been collected going into Monday’s meeting. The goal is 5,000. 

Pasco Schools does not have a formal policy on the books regarding facilities for transgender students. However, a spokesperson for the district explained it allows transgender kids to use the bathrooms and locker rooms for the gender they identify with in adherance with state and federally-directed “best practices” guidance. 

“You can’t have a young female getting undressed in front of young boys and an adult PE coach,” said Rob Oppedisano, a long time PE teacher at Chasco Middle School. “It’s just not right.”

Oppedisano pushed back in the fall when a biologically female student who identifies male wanted to change in his locker room. In turn. he says the administration threatened to transfer him or take away his job altogether. 

“They’re acting on an unwritten policy,” he said at Monday’s town hall. 

Gretchen Leeper is a parent at Gulf High School who is worried by the notion of boys using the same bathroom and locker room as her teen daughter. She too would like to see the school board draft up and vote on a clear policy that accommodates transgender teens, but not at the expense of her daughter. 

“There should be a support system in place for that student, there should be other things to make them comfortable,” Leeper said. “But you should not have to make other students uncomfortable just to make one student comfortable.” 

The Pasco County school board is set to meet March 6 but the district has not indicated that it plans to take any action or reevaluate current practices. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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