A Georgia school district is removing their new bathroom policy for transgender students following “serious safety concerns,” which include death threats and student harassment.
According to PEOPLE, the Pickens County School District released a statement on Wednesday, October 16, announcing it has reversed a newly implemented policy that allowed students to use whichever restroom corresponds with their gender identity.
“There have been many serious safety concerns raised in the past few days. School board members, staff, and students have been threatened due to the administration’s implementation of the Adams vs. St. John’s County School District,” the statement said. “There have been death threats, student harassment, and vandalism of school property.”
In the statement, the Pickens County School District said that while it “acknowledges that it has the responsibility to protect its staff and students,” it also feared that they are unable to meet the “recently increased demands,” and would, therefore, be reversing the policy for the time being.
“The District shall return to bathroom procedures in place at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year until it can consult with law enforcement and other safety professionals so that these concerns may be addressed,” according to the statement. “We ask that all of our stakeholders exercise patience and discretion until these matters can be resolved.”
Superintendent Carlton Wilson spoke to the publication stating that the mood within the district remains “somewhat torn,” as the issue is one “that people have strong feelings on both sides.”
He continued, noting that the threats, which included graffiti, did not target any specific students, but transgender students as a group. He added that members of his staff, including the assistant superintendent and a board member, had been specifically targeted, which the sheriff’s office is investigating.
Wilson said that despite the policy backpedal, the school still has a private, gender-neutral bathroom for any student, transgender or not, not wanting to use the multiple-person restroom, according to People.
The release further answered concerns from parents, confirming high school staffers monitored the restrooms during class changes and would continue to enforce anti-bullying and harassment policies.
“Although I have met with our architect to develop a redesign of our restroom facilities, and we anticipate these changes to be implemented expeditiously, we still maintain single-stall restrooms in the high school that are available to any student who wants to use gender-neutral restrooms, regardless of the reason,” the statement read.
Pickens said that for the future, the district will be looking into organizing a task force of professionals, law enforcement, and mental health experts to devise solutions.
“This is not a Pickens County issue. It’s not a north Georgia issue or even a southern issue,” he said. “This is a national issue, and it’s ripping apart the very fabric of public education, making it virtually impossible for schools to do what they’re supposed to: educating our children.”
Continuing, “We’re calling for our strong leadership at a state level, as well as the national level, as schools and communities continue to struggle with the issues like fighting expensive legal lawsuits and diverting valuable resources from what should be our only focus, and that should be educating our children.”