Joecks column on Clark County School District and gender-diverse students misses the mark

I am disappointed that Mr. Victor Joecks did not provide the full story in his recent column about efforts by the Clark County School District to consider a possible policy or guidelines for students who are gender diverse (“CCSD laying groundwork to implement radical transgender policies,” Sunday Review-Journal).

Mr. Joecks failed to mention why I asked district staff members and the community to examine the possibility of formalized guidance: Our principals have asked for help with the growing number of students who are identifying as transgender or gender diverse. Right now, the district works out plans on a case-by-case basis for students. Not only is this becoming increasingly time-consuming, there is also a concern that district students will not be treated equitably.

Other districts around the country, such as Washoe County, have guidelines or policies in place regarding gender diverse students, and we are examining many of those existing documents.

The working group currently meeting will make a recommendation on whether the district should pursue a policy or guidelines and, if so, what general topics should be addressed. This group includes pastors and advocates on both sides of the issue. It includes parents, educators and two high school students. To characterize these meetings as private is misleading. It is common for a working group to have honest, detailed discussions about an issue before taking possible recommendations to the public.

Mr. Joecks also omitted this key point: We will take the working group’s recommendations to the public in a set of five public meetings that you can find at ccsd.net/genderdiverse. All families, students and community members are invited to provide their input. Ultimately, district staff will compile the input from the working group and the community meetings to make a final recommendation to the superintendent, who can choose to forward the recommendation to the trustees for a vote.

We designed this process to be transparent and thoughtful. We sent out a press release about the process in September, and we have continued to talk about it on our social media.

We know that our gender diverse students are among our most vulnerable. National studies have shown they deal with high rates of bullying, suicidal thoughts, rejection and violence — including, sometimes, by their own families.

We have only one goal with this discussion: To ensure that all students feel safe and respected at school.

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