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Tempers flare over Pulaski County transgender student policy

New state law requires each division to adopt a policy by the start of the new school year

Tempers flared Monday night over a plan for transgender students to use a bathroom of their choosing in Pulaski County.

PULASKI COUNTY, Va. – Tempers flared Monday night over a plan for transgender students to use a bathroom of their choosing in Pulaski County. A new state law requires divisions to adopt a policy by the start of the upcoming school year.

The controversy primarily surrounds the bathroom decision. Board chair Timmy Hurst said it’s about making a policy that’s non-discriminatory.

“Whether it’s a transgender child or a cisgender child, what is the main concern of any school board in the state of Virginia is to protect kids,” Hurst said.

More than 100 people came out to share their comments with the board at its meeting Monday. About a third support the policy which is designed to make all students feel safe and welcomed.

“To the students of Pulaski County, the overwhelming majority of your teachers support you. They love you the way that you are and they will fight for your rights against any and all inequitable treatment,” one man said.

But others see it as an issue, primarily for religious reasons. While some said they’re OK with transgender students as a whole, others made it clear they don’t support it at all.

“We are a small community, country folks, these people have elected you all and elected the other people in this county to represent us,” another man said.

Some mentioned neighboring schools not adopting the same plan to allow students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. But the board’s attorney said those divisions risk being found not following the law. Hurst also said they wouldn’t be adopting this policy if they didn’t have to.

“When anybody goes on a school board the last thing they want is anything that’s really political, you want to do your work with helping kids,” Hurst said.

The policy will go up for a vote at the board’s August meeting.