Grayson County Schools pass bathroom ordinance

GRAYSON COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Another county in Virginia has told the federal government it will not allow students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

The Grayson County School Board passed an ordinance, which immediately took effect, that says students must use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate, or they will have to use a separate one.

The School Board says it's stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The federal government said in a letter May 13th that school systems that choose this route risk lawsuits and jeopardize their federal funding, but the School Board in Grayson was also getting pressure from parents, saying they would pull their children out of school if the system complied with the federal mandate.

Ultimately, Superintendent Kelly Wilmore said for him, the decision came down to safety, and the parents agreed.

"Locker room and shower room, accessible by multiple persons at the same time, shall be designated for use by male persons only or female persons only," said Wilmore, reading from the new ordinance.

Pastor David Osborne was one of the dozens who attended the meeting supporting the move.

"We respect their choices, but at the same time, we have a choice, we should have a choice too," said Osborne.

State Senator Bill Carrico advised the board before it made the decision.

"Setting aside the fact that I'm a legislator, I'm a parent first, and my main concern, my main reason of moving forward was to protect my child," said Carrico.

Protect his child from what Superintendent Kelly Wilmore says are legitimate safety concerns.

"How do you police this? Because if a boy is coming out of a restroom, or a girl and they expose themself, well what do you do? Can you kick them out of the bathroom? Well no you can't. Do you file charges on them for indecent exposure? So we looked at a lot of different angles, and Trans-gender was never the issue, it was more of the safety," said Wilmore.

Now, with the ordinance passed, Osborne says some are concerned with about the schools losing federal funding.

"President Obama is blackmailing the schools you might say, because he's going to withdraw the funding if we don't do this, but we feel like, we feel like we can get our funding for that somewhere else if need be," said Osborne.

That might be a tall order however.

Last year, the federal government gave Grayson County Schools more than $2.3 million dollars and the system still had a hard time paying its teachers, but Gary Lewis, who lives in North Carolina, says it's the right thing to do.

"To me, it's not a rational process, it's a political process. It's a very, very small percentage of the population that is demanding that their perspective, their point of view, overrides the vast majority of people, and I'm proud of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina to take a stand," said Lewis.

So are most of the parents in the Grayson County School System, who, on this issue, are seemingly united.

"We want to protect the innocence of our children, so we felt like they should respect our choices," said Osborne.

Grayson joins Gloucester County, that is currently undergoing a discrimination lawsuit for making the same decision.

Wilmore says he expects several other school districts may follow Grayson's lead.