Duval County

Transgender lifeguard candidate rejected by City of Jacksonville after removing top at the pool

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax has confirmed a controversy over a transgender lifeguard applicant who applied for a job with the City of Jacksonville.

It happened at the city pool at Cecil Aquatic Center during a group try-out for the job.

There were children present during the exercise. The city has received complaints about the incident, though a city spokesperson said they did not have the total number of complaints.

Two sources within city hall told Action New Jax that the city has chosen not to hire that applicant. The city released the following information about the incident:


“This incident happened Thursday of last week at Cecil Pool. A transgender person, a female who identifies as male, removed their shirt exposing their bare breasts, and completed a portion of the training with 20 other trainees. While we cannot confirm the age of the individuals participating in the training, JaxParks recruits lifeguards starting at age 15. This occurred within view of several dozen children and their parents sharing the same pool at the same time.”

Action News Jax spoke with Cielo Sunsarae, the executive director and founder of Queer Trans Project, who said they were disappointed it happened.

“This individual here was coming for a position to protect the children and people at the pool, they came here for one person and were denied for another reason completely not related to it,” Sunsarae said. “Kids don’t sexualize breasts, it’s the adults that are making it out bigger than what it is what is the difference if the person had top surgery or not?”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry released the following statement:

“Through a citizen expressing concerns, my administration became aware of an incident where a biological female trainee in a lifeguard program was topless at one of our public pools.

“After consideration of the incident, I believe it is wrong for our public pools to be a place where Jacksonville families are forced to explain to their children why a person hired to protect public safety is exposing her breasts.

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“I see no reason for our lifeguards to be forced to make changes to existing rules mandating that biological females cover their chests. Our parks and public pools are meant to be a place where families can feel safe to enjoy themselves. We shouldn’t force parents of young children to be caught in the crossfire of battles over wokeism.”

Sunsarae believes there needs to be more education for both the city and the community about the LGBTQ+ community.

“We can’t move past this as a community without proper education, advocacy, and basic respect. No matter how much you don’t agree with someone’s ideals, just respect them,” Sunsarae said.

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