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LGBT students confront Clay County Superintendent

LGBT students in the Clay County Public Schools confronted Superintendent Charlie Van Zant Jr. in the wake of his remarks about the Obama administration’s directive on transgender bathroom access in public education.

Van Zant made his feelings known through the use of a robocalling system that went out to some 35,000 households in the district.

“This phone call was hurtful, discriminatory, and made students feel unsafe,” said one student, who identified themself as president of their school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. The comments were made directly to Van Zant at a school board meeting. Video of the entire statement can be viewed here.

“Not only was it hateful, it was placing your personal, religious and political views into a secular school,” the student added, to applause.

Van Zant, who is up for re-election, recently posted this video outlining his intent to disregard the White House’s directive on allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify as. He sent the audio from that video clip through the school district’s ParentLink notification system, sparking criticism from his opponents on the School Board for what they called an unethical and partisan use of the robo-calling system.

The directive does not have the force of law.


Written By

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at

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