Transgender student rally at FCPS HQ BB (copy)

People at a transgender student rally in March at the Frederick County Public Schools headquarters building react to a speaker. The rally was held before a meeting in which the school board discussed a policy to protect transgender students’ rights.

A policy being designed to create a welcoming environment for transgender students in Frederick County Public Schools is receiving overwhelming support.

Parents, students and friends of the transgender community attended Wednesday night’s Board of Education meeting to express support for the policy, which went to the board for first reading at a worksession Wednesday afternoon. Those who attended the meeting implored the board to pass the policy as soon as possible.

“The first draft of the policy is exactly what trans students need,” said James Van Kuilenburg, a transgender student at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School.

The policy as written allows transgender students to use a bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. It also gives any student who is uncomfortable for any reason using a gender-segregated bathroom the option to use a safe and non-stigmatizing alternative — such as privacy curtains, provisions to use private restrooms or office restrooms, or a separate changing schedule in locker rooms.

The policy also allows transgender students to participate in sports that align with their gender identity. So, a transgender girl could play girls soccer, and a transgender boy could play baseball. The policy also says a student is not required to disclose his or her gender identity.

Board member April Miller said there are potential safety issues with this policy, and worried that if a transgender girl played girls soccer, it could result in injuries such as concussions to other girls.

The policy currently says schools cannot have gender-based dress codes for special events such as graduation or prom. In the worksession, board Vice President Liz Barrett said if schools have certain traditions for graduation, such as wearing two different-colored robes, she would suggest letting students choose which robe they want to wear.

“You don’t have a 50-50 mix of boys and girls anyway, so it doesn’t need to be 50-50, but it would probably be split pretty close,” Barrett said.

Barrett also suggested offering options of attire that is acceptable for both boys and girls. This would read as an overarching policy, saying something like “long slacks, skirts, dresses and collared shirts are all good options,” Barrett said.

One particular point of contention was a section that grants a measure of confidentiality to transgender students who are not out to their parents.

Students are able to go by a desired name in school, according to the policy.

“Transgender and gender nonconforming students have the right to discuss and express their gender identity and expression openly and to decide where, when, and with whom to share private information,” the policy currently reads. “The fact that a student may wish to use a different name or pronoun at school, or to disclose their transgender or gender nonconforming status to school staff, does not authorize school staff to disclose a student’s personally identifiable or medical information.”

Board members Miller and Colleen Cusimano both had an issue with the potential of schools keeping a student’s information from parents. A parent would be able to find out if a student was using a different name in school by looking up official records, Barrett said.

“This policy doesn’t give the school the right to hide information from parents,” board member Joy Schaefer said. “It just means if a student says he or she wants to go by a different [name or personal pronoun], the teacher can’t go call the parents and tell them.”

Van Kuilenburg said this policy does a good job protecting transgender students.

“We hope this will serve as an example for the rest of the state,” he said.

Erika Walker, a parent of two LGBT students in the Oakdale school system, echoed the sentiment that this policy encourages inclusiveness.

“I think all of us older folks remember the feeling of being awkward as teens. I know I hated it,” Walker said. “But I never feared using the restroom, or putting clothes on in front of a male when I was obviously a female. I felt safe at school. LGBT kids are not currently feeling this.”

The policy will go back to the board for a second reading in the coming weeks. Board President Brad Young did not give a date for when the policy could go for a vote.

Follow Allen Etzler on Twitter: @AllenWEtzler.

(10) comments

LeonardKeepers

unfortunately in today's society minority rules not majority.so many people are not satisfied with one thing or another,right now people are not satisfied with the sex they were born with,the school board and the powers that be need to say no to this transgender situation. the sad part is the powers that be have no guts to put a stop to transgender issues or any other issues that should have been (old saying headed off at the pass) things then would not be in such turmoil with today's society.

tonyc51

If all are treated the same, what is the necessity to create new rules which treat a select group differently?

DickD

That is how I feel too, Tony. But if we are not transgender, perhaps we just don't understand.

phydeaux994

Tony, we are not all treated the same. That is a ridiculous thing to say. People are treated differently based on their race, religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, sexual preference, education, height, weight, personality, looks, and other traits.

User1

So....let's create a "safe and comfortabl" environment for the less than 1% of the people that can't figure what sex they are. What about the other 99% that are uncomfortable with a male going into a female restroom or locker room or even shower. What about their safety and sense of comfortability? There is gender equality. Your either male or female as God made you. Since there are no guidelines concerning how long you feel like a trans you open the door to those people who use this term as an escape to play "games" with their fellow students. Nothing to stop a male from walking into the girls shower room and saying "I can be here, I feel like a girl at the moment". What next...trans species? I feel like a dog so you must provide fire hydrants for me?

jerseygrl42

Unfortunately , those concocting these schemes don't give a hang about the 99% and are discussing keeping information away from the parents of the less than 1% ers....this is outrageous and absurd!

sevenstones1000

D you think that is how trans people behave, User? Maybe you need to get out more and learn something.

User1

Don't read into my statements Seven. How did I say they behave? I said NOTHING about behavior. I stated if your 13 year old female daughter was in the shower how would she feel if a 13 year old male "female wannabe" gets in next to her? Would that make her feel comfortable? Would you be comfortable with that? And yes, the current law as it is does not stipulate ANY requirements for being Transgender. A person can just sat "I feel like a woman" any time and get away with going anywhere. Look it up before you spout your "knowledge". If your such a genius in reading into people's statements then maybe you should run for school board.

Fawned

There is no god.

Jthomas515

To be transparent,

It must be difficult to have a child (son/daughter) feel rejected and shamed by a few people at school. Awful! I would be very frustrated as a parent, yet to make the whole school system change at a fundamental societal level seems like a major over reach. There has to be a better way.

I do have compassion on anyone who struggles to conform to cultural, societal norms, but the momentum of the 'gender movement' is incredible. It has been less then 10 years ago that most states, even the most liberal states, created polices that affirmed marriage between a man and a woman. Things have changed so quickly.

I get the very new language of gender, pronouns, even the binary stuff, and even the proper working to protect minority rights, yet what qualifies as a true right vs a feeling, no matter how strong it is?

Discrimination is wrong, yet to decide what qualifies as discrimination at a school board level is just too much at this level. Very few students will change the environment of tens of thousands of other students.

This is one of the reasons why many go to private schools, or even homeschool, or even move to other states. It's not ignorance, or bias, or even hatred, it's a radical shift of biology, science, morals and healthy tradition.

What has changed that 'no' doesn't mean 'no' anymore? Or 'you just can't'? Be kind, but be reasonable.

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