Orange Co. School Board votes to add sexual orientation, gender identity to discrimination policy



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The Orange County School Board voted to change its discrimination policy late Tuesday night.

In a 6 to 2 vote, the board added protections for gay, lesbian and transgender students and staff members.

The board spent hours listening to opinions from both sides of the issue. There were hundreds of people at Tuesday night's meeting.

The Orange County School Board added protections for students and teachers from being discriminated against, based on their sexual orientation or gender expression, despite an effort from the Florida Family Policy Council for a "no" vote.

"This language is very, very dangerous," said John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council.

Stemberger said the policy opens up students to too much.      

"There's nothing to prevent a male teacher from turning into Sally, and the principal cannot fire that person, cannot reassign them, because that would be considered discrimination," said Stemberger.

However, proponents of the change said that's the point.

"Those folks deserve to know that they're not going to be fired from their job at any moment just because of who they are," said Michael Farmer of Equality Florida.

Farmer said sexual orientation and gender expression are already protected by federal law, and the change brings the district in line.

"Right now, the school could be faced with legal ramifications if they don't adopt a policy that puts them in line with federal law," said Farmer.

Some people, however, were concerned the policy would open up a can of worms and allow students who identify as a different gender to go into the locker room or bathroom of the opposite sex.

WFTV found out that there were accommodations in place for students dealing with that issue.

They're allowed to use faculty amenities away from other students.