Emails reveal outrage, support after CMS transgender policy announced last summer

CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46) – Through an open records request, FOX 46 Charlotte is getting a look at the backlash and support Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools received from parents shortly after announcing the district’s policy on transgender students and the use of restrooms and locker rooms.

CMS serves over 130,000 students, and the district estimates around 300 of them are transgender.

Last summer, CMS updated its anti-bullying policy to allow transgender students to use the restroom or locker room that corresponds with their gender identity.

CMS put that policy on hold as they waited for the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court transgender rights case out of Virginia.

Recently, the Supreme Court announced it would not be taking the case, and sent it back down to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals after President Trump signed an executive order that overturned a federal policy on transgender student’s access to school restrooms.

CMS told FOX 46 Charlotte on Monday that the school district is in the process of consulting with their legal counsel to figure out what their next move is in terms of the anti-bullying policy.

Shortly after Superintendent Ann Clark announced the changes, Clark and the school district were bombarded by emails, many of which were from furious parents.

“I am outraged that CMS would defy state law and force the majority of students to subject themselves to your perversion, this will not stand, you all need to be fired!” one person wrote.

Another wrote, “So let me get this straight, if Johnny shows up for school one day and decides he should be able to dress in the girl’s locker room, you’re okay with that?! Thank God my daughters are out of your left wing radical school system.”

Another email from a parent said that her 7-year-old son’s innocence would be jeapordized, and that “He is not mature enough to comprehend or decipher something as complicated as gender/sexual orientation, nor should he be forced to at such a young age.”

A different email reads, “As a physical education teacher in both public and private schools, I strongly oppose allowing male transgenders into locker rooms, at that age girls have enough problems with their own bodies, please don’t cause them, even if only a few, any further embarrassment.”

Clarke and CMS also received dozens of copied and pasted emails from parents who were encouraged to do so by the NC Values Coalition.

Some of the emails read in part, “This policy ignores both federal and state law, and jeopardizes the privacy, safety, and dignity of my children. My children feel both anxious and disrespected faced with the reality that this new policy will force them to share intimate facilities with members of the opposite sex.”

But not all of the feedback was negative.

In one email to Clarke, a parent writes “I am so happy to hear you and your team are working on creating a policy that supports and protects our gender non conforming and transgender students. As a parent of a gender non conforming child, my constant fear is that my child will be harassed, bullied, or worse for being “different” at school.”

26th Judicial District Court Judge Elizabeth Trosch emailed Clarke to show her support, saying in part “I am relieved to hear of the decision to institute an institutional policy and process for creating safe schools for transgender youth.”

The Council for Children’s Rights wrote to Clarke that they stand with CMS “on the need to ensure a safe and caring environment for all students.”

Another parent wrote to Clarke to say thank you, and that “I know that the day after such a polarizing announcement you may be met with a bit of backlash, however, I would never want the outcries of some to drown out the immense gratitude of so many.”

In response to the dozens of copied and pasted emails from parents, CMS board member Rhonda Lennon wrote to her colleagues that the emails were from the NC Values Coalition, and “I let them know that since they weren’t even taking the time to change the subject line or context, it made it super easy just to delete them all.”

In response to that, Board member Eric Davis wrote “Although it may not change many opinions, I am willing to meet with them to explain how our policy protects all students, without discriminating.”

The policy still has not gone into effect, as CMS waits to decide what to do next following President Trump’s executive order, and the US Supreme Court’s decision.