Monday, December 16, 2019
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Committee considers transgender-related changes

Carroll County Public Schools has formed a committee that will deal with different aspects of current school policy and how that policy conforms with Title IX, following joint guidance issued recently by the US Departments of Education and Justice, the Carroll County Times reports.

Carroll County Public Schools is looking into protecting the rights of all students.

The guidance relates significantly to how schools handle the use of bathrooms and locker rooms by transgender students while remaining in compliance with federal law. According to what is known as a “Dear Colleague” letter, schools are to allow students to use bathrooms and changing areas that correspond to their gender identity, even if that differs from their sex.

The committee is split into several subcommittees, some of which have already met, that will consider different aspects of the issue:

  • restrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms
  • overnight field trips
  • performing arts & career and technology education uniforms
  • student dress codes, graduation traditions, and proms and school dances
  • student records, names, and pronouns
  • athletics and team locker rooms, and athletic handbooks
  • general policies

“The idea is that we want to make sure we’re a welcoming environment and a fair environment for all students,” the paper quoted Kim Dolch, chair of the dress code subcommittee and director of high schools, as saying.

One option being considered, according to the article, is privacy changing areas in locker rooms. To remove the stigma of changing in the privacy areas, the school could make the privacy areas open to all students, including pre-op transgender students, shy students, or students with a medical condition who might not want to change in public spaces.

But not everyone on all the subcommittees thinks changing the school environment would be a good idea. “If we’re going to protect the rights of all students, I don’t think it can be done,” the paper quoted one committee member as saying.

In my mind, it’s not a question of being able to protect the rights of all students; it’s a simple question of, What does the law (Title IX) say? Schools are simply required to safeguard the rights of all students, so what it comes down to is figuring how they’re going to do that, including allocating any budget money for the purpose of modifying the building to accommodate the needs to all students.

Related news from around the US

  • Lawyers representing a transgender student in Virginia filed a response in opposition to an emergency petition now before the US Supreme Court from the local school board. The response asks the Court to stay a preliminary injunction from a district court and the Fourth Circuit’s April ruling upholding that injunction, which allowed a transgender student to use the bathroom of his identified gender (SCOTUS Blog)
  • A former board member and retired school counselor took on a Wisconsin school district for banning a transgender student from using the boys’ restroom (Kenosha News)
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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