COMMENTARY: Public must pay attention to Clark County School District’s gender policy debate

Over the past five weeks I have been a member of Clark County School District’s gender diverse working group. Earlier this year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 225, which requires the state, not the district, to develop a policy for transgender students. In July, Trustee Carolyn Edwards convinced the School Board that the district should move forward to create its own transgender policy.

Having learned valuable lessons from the sex education debacle — when thousands of fuming parents showed up to decry the radical changes proposed in the curriculum — the district created a working group to be transparent about this process. The purpose of our group was to make recommendations about what could be covered in a policy, but we did not decide on any of the details. After spending more than 10 hours in these meetings, it is clear that we are at a crossroads in our culture.

In December, Edwards and members of the working group will hold a series of public meetings to discuss the recommendations. It is critical that every interested member of our community attend at least one of these meetings because we have important choices before us.

In the past few years, our district has worked to address bullying and emphasize respect. This gender policy, however, has the potential to go beyond respect and require students to embrace ideologies that are against their foundational beliefs and science.

Today, culture pushes the philosophy that gender is fluid and not biologically determined by chromosomal makeup. A great irony in today’s progressive thought demands we believe in man-made climate change or be labeled a “science denier.” If, however, a person embraces the notion that gender is fixed because of your DNA, then, at best, you are not enlightened, at worst you are a bigot. To accept gender fluidity you must deny the science of chromosomes.

The public needs to come to these meetings to address the hard questions we have been grappling with for the past five weeks.

How will the district handle overnight trips and hotel accommodations? Do parents have the right to know if their daughter is sharing a room, and possibly a bed, with a biological boy, even though he has transitioned and looks like a girl?

How will the district handle school traditions such as crowning Homecoming king and queen? Will any sex-segregated traditions be allowed?

How will the district handle dress codes and school attire? Will we have gender-neutral campuses? Will teachers be discouraged from addressing children as boys and girls?

Will a “safe and respectful learning environment” require LGBTQIA affirming curriculum for transgendered students to feel included in their studies? Certain counties in California say yes.

Clearly, our principals need guidance on how to accommodate gender-diverse students at school. However, the details matter, and the public needs to weigh in so that we protect everyone’s rights. We must not mistake compromise with complete capitulation and abandon our traditional male/female social construct.

The most important question the public needs to ask is who will ultimately write this policy? Who will appoint? Our working group was stacked with good people from the LGBTQIA community. The policy writing committee, however, must reflect a more realistic demographic of the district.

These public meetings are important to our entire community so that we can protect everyone’s rights. There is so much at stake. It is incumbent on us to create good policy without having to undergo a complete cultural shift.

Deborah Earl is vice president of Power2Parent, which advocates for parental rights in Nevada.

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