Gwinnett County Schools respond to federal directive

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There was a mixed reaction Monday night after Georgia’s largest school system issued its stance on transgender students’ access to restroom facilities in schools.

The Gwinnett County Schools System criticized the federal directive that tells all public schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity instead of the sex on their birth certificate. The system said it already has a plan in place to handle the issue. And it has no plans to change it.

The district labeled the federal guideline an “overreach" in a statement posted to the district's website. The system said it will continue providing sex-designated restrooms as well as gender-neutral facilities for students who don't want to use restrooms that fit their biological sex.

Some Gwinnett County parents oppose the federal directive. They told FOX 5 News that allowing students to use restrooms of their choice or how they identify could result in confusion and safety issues.

However, transgender woman Gabrielle Claiborne sees the issue differently.. She said the school system's current plan to allow transgender students to use gender-neutral facilities stops short of full inclusion.

“A unisex restroom still does isolate and discriminate to a degree for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals," Claiborne said.

A statement posted on the Gwinnett County Schools website reads in part:

“Although the new agency 'guidance does not have the force of law or regulation, it does infringe upon the abilities of school districts to determine appropriate education policy, procedures, and practices for their students. Furthermore, the letter implies that in order to receive federal funds, districts must comply with the guidance. Withholding federal funds would be highly detrimental to the very students who need it most, the poor and disabled.”

Click here to read the district's full statement

“I think that is the biggest travesty of the whole situation. We want the best information and facilities for our children, but putting us in this situation pigeon-holes us into a decision,” said parent Corey Redding.

FOX 5 tried to find out if access to restrooms by transgender students is an issue in Gwinnett County. A school spokesperson said the district does not track how many students identify as transgender.