Frontier School Board members got a primer on gender expression, gender identity, sexual orientation, transgender and gender non-conforming youth Tuesday night.
The state Education Department and the state public high school athletic association have come out with guidelines and suggested policies to help districts create a safe and supportive atmosphere for transgender and gender non-conforming students.
It was clear that some board members see some unsettled times ahead if and when the board approves a policy, and legal ramifications no matter decision is made.
“I know we’re probably going to have some hot discussions on this down the road, because it is going to be controversial,” Board Member Patrick Boyle said.
“It’s nice that they come out with guidelines that say what you can do or what you should do, but not saying you can’t or you will,” Board Member Tom Best Jr. said. “I see some of these guidelines as being very problematic on both ends.”
If transgender youth want to participate in sports consistent with the gender they identify with, state guidelines suggest the school and superintendent confirm the gender identity, based on documentation from the parent, guardian, guidance counselor, or from a doctor, psychologist or other medical professional, Athletic Director Richard Gray told the board.
But there is at least one question on many minds – what bathroom or locker room do transgender and gender non-conforming students use?
The suggested policy from Erie BOCES states the student use the rest room or locker room that corresponds to the student’s “consistently expressed gender identity at school,” Gray said.
Any student requesting increased privacy or other accommodations would be provided with a safe alternative, according to the suggested policy.