Wake Co. sheriff calls for more uniform transgender policies in schools

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Donnie Harrison spoke to ABC11 Sunday and said he may have to pull resource officers from schools (WTVD)

The Wake County Sheriff is fired up about the lack of policies addressing transgender access in Wake County Schools. He said it could cause him to pull school resource officers from campuses.

Sheriff Donnie Harrison spoke to ABC11 Sunday and explained why having no uniform policy makes it hard for his deputies to enforce the rules.

He's calling for a system-wide facility access police in the schools after he says a transgender student was seen leaving a girls' locker room at West Millbrook Middle School.

Harrison says when the school resource officer went to the principal to check on rules about access, the principal told said it was fine as long as the student didn't take off their underwear.

The sheriff has gotten feedback from parents and has advised Wake school leaders.

"I think the parents of the children dressing out in that locker room, the female parents, they should know. And the superintendent said, 'That's violating the civil rights of the transgender,'" Harrison told ABC11.

Harrison insisted that he's not opposed to transgender students but he says a consistent set of facility access guidelines is needed soon.

"I just think the school board and the superintendent should get together and say, 'let's make a policy.' Let's let the parents know, of every school, and let them make the decision about whether to keep the child in that classroom or talk to the child," he commented.

Sheriff Harrison says he'll meet with the county manager, his lawyer and personnel authorities this week before deciding if he'll remove resource officers from school. He says he'll leave no school unprotected.

Lisa Luten, a spokesperson for Wake County Schools, sent this statement to ABC11:

All schools in the Wake County Public School System use the same rules and standards when questions arise about bathroom access. Those rules require school resource officers to report any concerns to the school principal. All law enforcement agencies and principals are aware of that uniform and standard set of rules. No child has ever been at risk based on how we have handled this issue.

Because this issue is still being debated in federal courts, the school system is unable to create a formal policy. We handle questions about transgender bathroom use on a case-by-case basis, striving to provide a respectful, safe, and supportive environment for all students.

Each of Wake County's schools has at least one single-stall restroom on campus, which is typically reserved for faculty and is certainly an option for accommodating transgender students.

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