LGBTQ lawmakers disappointed, appalled by Lee County letter urging bathroom restrictions
LGBTQ lawmakers Shevrin Jones, Carlos Guillermo Smith and Michele Rayner-Goolsby.

LGBTQ Jones Smith Rayner
A local controversy has spurred strong reactions.

LGBTQ members of the Legislature spoke out against a letter from Lee County lawmakers demanding schools restrict transgender bathroom restrictions.

“I am appalled by this letter sent by Lee County GOP lawmakers demanding that their school board rescind guidelines that treat transgender kids with dignity and respect,” tweeted Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat.

Smith referenced a letter penned by Rep. Spencer Roach and signed by five other lawmakers sent to the Lee County School Board. The letter, written in response to local outrage over a poster encouraging inclusive environments for transgender students and staff, demands schools dictate which restrooms or locker rooms transgender individuals access.

“We urge you to immediately discontinue or cancel any policies that allow male students and faculty members to use the girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms in Lee County Schools,” Roach wrote.

The move has now prompted pushback from every gay or lesbian member of the Legislature.

“This is disappointing,” tweeted Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby, a St. Petersburg Democrat.

Rayner-Goolsby identifies as lesbian, Smith as gay.

Of note, both Roach and Smith raised the issue of a transgender sports bill debated in Tallahassee this year. Roach, in his letter, referenced a bill passed in the House that would prohibit transgender girls from competing in girls’ sports.

But companion legislation stalled in the Senate.

“The trans sports ban is dead, yet these ‘leaders’ continue attacking, humiliating and using vulnerable children,” Smith wrote.

Sen. Shevrin Jones, a West Park Democrat and Florida’s first openly gay Senator, retweeted Smith’s message with the hashtag #LetKidsPlay, a rallying cry this year for opponents of the sports bill and similar legislation filed across the country.

While LGBTQ lawmakers have voiced concern about the letter, other elected officials have joined in support. U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds sent a similar document to the Lee County School Board urging the district to back off its interpretation of federal law on transgender policy and stop using the controversial posters, which are based on Equality Florida best practices.

“The addition of the Equality Florida graphic in the Student Code of Conduct is wholly unnecessary and inserts hyper-partisan propaganda in the name of ‘equality,’” Donald wrote.

Equality Florida has defended the best practices.

“Equality Florida is proud to be a resource to school districts as they craft their own policies to fully meet this obligation,” said Jon Harris Mauer, Equality Florida’s public policy director. “For 25 years we have worked to ensure that LGBTQ students are supported in a manner consistent with established nationally recognized best practices.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704