Wake sheriff wants universal policy for transgender students in school locker rooms
Posted September 23, 2016
Updated September 24, 2016
Wake County, N.C. — Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison is threatening to pull his resource officers from schools if a system-wide policy is not developed regarding transgender students using restrooms and locker rooms.
According to Harrison, a transgender student who was born a boy was seen coming out of the girl's locker room at West Millbrook Middle School. Harrison said the principal was OK with it.
"She had allowed this person, male that is transgender, going to be a female, to go in there as long as he did not take off his underwear," Harrison said.
Harrison said the rules about transgender students using restrooms needs to be clear and consistent across the school system to avoid confusion for other students and parents.
"I asked the parents of the girls in the dressing room, did they know that this has been happening? I have no problem with anything going on, other than the fact when the answer came back no," he said. "We are not letting anyone know about this."
The Wake County Public Schools System does not have a policy for transgender students using restrooms or locker rooms. In a statement, a spokesperson for the school system said in part "it is not considering one at this time due to competing and conflicting court cases."
Harrison sent a letter to the school system asking for a written policy.
In a letter to the sheriff's office, Superintendent Jim Merrill said bathroom and locker room access was left up to school administrators. That statement did not sit well with Harrison.
"I'm thinking about pulling my school resource officers out of those schools," he said. "If we can't have a better relationship, if they can't work with us, I don't know how we can work with them."
Late Friday afternoon, the ACLU released a statement saying in part "schools should provide supportive learning environments that give students access to facilities matching their gender identity, and federal courts have said that they have an obligation to do so."
[Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison's remarks about the school district's policy regarding transgender students' bathroom use.]