Share this article

print logo

Cheektowaga School District approves gender identity policy

The Cheektowaga Central School Board approved Tuesday a student gender identity policy and training for student mental health.

“We as a district have a pretty good understanding of the issues,” board president Renee Wilson said.

Her colleagues agreed and unanimously passed the measure.

The policy entails etiquette about language used and fostering an environment free of discrimination. The document lays out the sort of vernacular of many in the transgender community, so others can be more sensitive to it.

If a student officially changes his or her name, the district will change its records.

The district will allow a transgender or gender nonconforming student to use the restroom and locker room that corresponds to the student’s consistently expressed gender identity. Any student requesting increased privacy will be accommodated. Where physical education classes are sex-segregated, students will be allowed to participate in a manner consistent with their gender identity.

Generally, in other circumstances where students must be sex-segregated, such as overnight field trips, students may be permitted to participate in accordance with the gender identity that the student consistently asserts at school. The District will not restrict students’ clothing or appearance on the basis of gender.

“The policy … was the proper thing to do,” said Superintendent Dennis Kane.

The board also approved one person to go to training to be part of a youth mental health first aid instructor program.

“We received a grant to train a number of trainers … who would train bus drivers, teachers, teacher aides, community members, police officers,” Cheryl Buggs, interim assistant superintendent, Cheektowaga Central School District.

The grant, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is for “Project Aware.”

It started in October 2014 for $98,000 to train people about youth mental health first aid.

Once staff are trained, they will be able to identify stress, anxiety, mood changes and any other signs of a disruption to their normal day. Then, once identified by the staff, they’re referred to student services staff.