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CCSD board member requests report on transgender policy progress

Clark County School District officials soon will have to account for its policy — or lack thereof — to protect and accommodate transgender students.

On Thursday, several transgender students and their parents addressed the Clark County School Board and repeated their long-standing requests for a policy that accommodates all students, regardless of gender identity and expression, in public facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms. The students and transgender advocates also demanded districtwide training to teach faculty and staff how to properly address and support transitioning individuals.

The district has fielded such requests for years, but on Thursday it appeared that school board members started listening.

At a board meeting, District F Trustee Carolyn Edwards asked district officials to prepare a report on what has been done, if anything, in regards to a transgender policy.

“The public needs to know, and we’ve been somewhat silent on that,” Edwards told Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky.

Earlier, Edwards mentioned the issue must be examined, and in public.

“It has to be,” she said. “This is a real issue. It’s a current issue that we have to address.

“It’s also a delicate issue for some people, because it’s so complicated.”

The district already started researching transgender policies in other states, according to Edwards, who also sits on the board of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.

That organization last year adopted a position that allows student athletes to access any sanctioned sport “in accordance with his or her gender identity irrespective of the gender listed on the student’s birth certificate, or other student records, and regardless of whether the student has undergone any medical treatment.”

“I don’t know the solution,” Edwards said, “but we need to have a conversation.”

Last year, the district circulated an internal draft of administrative guidance that, among other things, proposed referring to all students by their preferred name and gender pronouns and allowing them to use the restroom that corresponds to their “sincerely held” gender identity.

The district never introduced that guidance, formally, after state lawmakers introduced a bill in the current session that would have required students to use restrooms corresponding to their biological gender.

It’s unclear when the district may advance that guidance in the future, but an attorney for the district indicated all parents, not just those of transgender students, would have a role in passing any new policy.

Linda Peterson plans to join those discussions.

She currently teaches an early morning religious course for Mormon high school students and told the board that all of them felt extremely uncomfortable that they may be forced to share a bathroom with transgender students.

“I’m not against anybody, but the other 99 percent needs respect.” Peterson said, referring to the majority of students who don’t identify as transgender.

“Just because they’re the majority doesn’t mean they can’t feel bullied,” she added. “We need all sides to come together, have a conversation with respect and find a solution.”

According to Peterson, her students also worry about transgender students changing in the locker rooms.

But Kristina Hernandez, a 12-year-old who transitioned to female last year, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week that she couldn’t understand why some people think transgender students only want to use restrooms or locker rooms for perverted reasons.

“We don’t want to hurt anyone. We’re not going to sexually assault anyone,” Hernandez said. “Do I look like a little rapist to you?”

Additionally, she asked, “If I have to use a separate bathroom, doesn’t that mean we need a gay boy bathroom to keep them from the straight boys? What about a lesbian-only bathroom to protect straight girls? Where does it stop?”

Contact Neal Morton at nmorton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279. Find him on Twitter: @nealtmorton.

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