Tom Benton, Wake County School Board Chairman, is crying foul. Benton thinks that Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison’s comments about the difficulty of enforcing WCPSS’s transgender policy are politically motivated.
He said as much in an article in this morning’s News & Observer.
Harrison has responsibility for about 20 school resource officers who patrol junior high and middle schools.
In the article, Harrison shared his frustration with the WCPSS policy that gives local principals the authority to decide on a case-by-case basis whether transgender students can use communal locker rooms.
Deciding on case-by-case basis doesn’t sound like much of a policy. WCPSS officials say they are caught in the legal netherworld waiting for the courts to resolve the issue.
The truth is, WCPSS lacks a policy because — like many other places — WCPSS lacked a transgender discrimination problem. That is until the Charlotte City Council said they did and then the State legislature and the Feds decided to weigh in as well.
Are Sheriff Donnie Harrison’s questions politically motivated? Hardly. His concerns are legitimate and reflect real shortcomings of the current way WCPSS addresses transgender student concerns.
If Benton doesn’t like Harrison’s comments or his threat to remove officers from schools if the policy isn’t clarified, he should do what the board has been unwilling to do: craft a policy regarding transgender students that respects the rights of all students and reflects the input of parents and students.
For the most part, the overwhelming number of transgender students have gotten along just fine in schools in North Carolina and across the United States. Anyone who wants to tell you that there is a significant transgender discrimination problem in our public schools that requires state and federal attention, well, I’m willing to hear the evidence.
This is the mess that emerges when the law conflicts with societal norms and values, brought on mostly by a solution looking for a problem. Sheriff Donnie Harrison is forced to deal with those realities. Maybe it’s time Tom Benton and the Wake County School Board have a full public discussion on the matter as well.