Missouri school district reverses transgender bathroom policy after community backlash

(The Lion) — The Wentzville, Missouri school board reversed course on its transgender bathroom policy after two members blew the whistle, leading to public backlash and a lawsuit.

The Wentzville Board of Education voted 5-2 on Thursday to formalize a policy designating multi-user bathrooms as same-sex spaces.

“This is a huge win for parental rights in Missouri,” Attorney General Andrew Bailey told The Lion. “We are going to continue to push for parents’ right to have a say in the process.”

The new policy defines sex as either male or female “based on an individual’s reproductive biology at birth and the individual’s genome.”

Community bathrooms must be labeled either male or female, though single-user facilities are also available to students.

The new policy was proposed by school board member Jennifer Olson, who previously blew the whistle on the Wentzville board for violating the state’s Open Meetings Law.

In September, Olson and fellow board member Renee Henke filed testified in signed affidavits that the board illegally discussed the district’s bathroom policy behind closed doors.

Wentzville Superintendent Danielle Tormala allegedly told the board she didn’t want the policy discussed formally because it would “make us a lightning rod” for litigation.

But litigation came nevertheless when AG Bailey filed a lawsuit against the board for an alleged violation of the Open Meetings Law, and in support of parents’ rights.

Wentzville sought to have the suit dismissed, which the Circuit Court denied on Jan. 5.

Now, the school board has approved a policy formally designating bathrooms as same-sex spaces.

“This increased level of privacy has been demanded from the public and that’s the purpose of this policy,” Olson said, according to local media.

“Glad to see the district is reversing course and being transparent,” Bailey commented on social media.

But not all the board members agreed.

Julie Scott, who allegedly said last year that the matter “isn’t the parents’ damn business,” implied some students wouldn’t be safe under the new policy.

“Every student needs a place to go to the restroom safely and our current procedure allows for that to happen without implementing this policy,” she claimed.

Superintendent Tormala also objected, saying they could be sued next for discrimination. She also said the small number of transgender students in Wentzville already use single-user bathrooms and locker rooms.

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