Regulatory policy

Blair Oaks’ policy on transgender students is not unique to the region

The Blair Oaks School Board received an ear of praise and criticism for its policy on transgender students on Tuesday, after weeks of questions from the community.

The board offered the “extended public comment” period ahead of its June board meeting so that members of the public can express their feelings on Policy 2115, adopted in November 2020.

Policy 2115 allows transgender students to choose a name and pronoun by which they will be identified and to dress according to their gender identity. It also allows all students to use a gender-neutral toilet, aligned to their “biological sex” or aligned to their “self-identified gender”. It also outlines the Missouri State High School Activities Association rules for transgender athletes.

Blair Oaks is certainly not alone in his political decisions; several other school boards in Mid-Missouri have implemented a similar policy using Missouri Consultants for Education’s policy language model.

“Missouri Consultants for Education (MCE) School Board Policy Service provides a practical and legally valid set of school board policies and regulations developed by experienced school administrators and experienced school attorneys,” its website states. The site has a curated list of policies that schools can download.

Missouri Consultants for Education did not return requests for comment.

Cole R-5 School District in Eugene has an identical policy to MCE, and Osage County R-2 in Linn has a similar policy.

However, in the section dealing with bathroom use, Linn’s policy does not contain a clause allowing students to use a bathroom aligned with their “self-identified gender” – only one aligned with their biological sex or a gender-neutral bathroom. The language of “self-identified gender” is in the original Missouri Consultants for Education policy. Linn School District officials did not respond to a question about the reasoning behind the language change.

Helias Catholic Secondary School has a gender textbook policy.

“All students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their biological sex,” he says.

“The school’s general policy is outlined in the student handbook, and any specific concerns relating to it would be addressed on an individual basis depending on the situation,” communications director Rebecca Martin said. “Helias Catholic’s policies align with the teachings of the church under the leadership of the Diocese of Jefferson City and are intended to help us partner with families in forming the faith and nurturing of their children.”

The policies of other schools in the region do not specifically address the subject of transgender students.

Superintendent Perry Gorrell, of the Cole County R-1 School District in Russellville, said he does not have a specific policy regarding transgender students, but there are policies that provide guidance “on how which all individuals should be treated”.

AC policy outlines Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination. Some courts and the Ministry of Justice have declared that discrimination based on sex and discrimination based on sexual orientation also fall under this category.

Gorrell also said the school has a policy that prohibits the enforcement of any rule that “will impose gender-based rules of dress and grooming in violation of Title IX.”

California’s R-1 School District and Southern Boone School District in Ashland both operate the same general policies, but Southern Boone Superintendent Chris Felmlee said there are procedures in place for students as well. transgender.

“Although the Southern Boone School District has not adopted a policy specifically relating to transgender students, the school district has, and has had for many years, policies and procedures in place that serve to protect all students from discrimination and harassment,” Felmlee said in a statement. “We are also committed to providing a safe and positive learning environment for all students and we recognize the importance of privacy for students using our schools’ washrooms and locker rooms.

“If a student chooses to disclose their identity as transgender to school officials, a locker room will be set up to ensure an appropriate level of privacy for all involved. The school administration will meet with the student and their parents to address their needs and develop an individualized plan for the student. Our schools provide gender-neutral washrooms and areas/rooms for students to change,” Felmlee said.

Although it has a policy outlining Title IX, the Jefferson City School District does not have a policy that specifically addresses transgender students, nor does Calvary Lutheran High School.

Calvary Lutheran executive director John Christman said the school does not yet have a policy dealing directly with transgender students, but it does have a family values ​​policy that families receive with their admissions packets. .

“Christian beliefs, as understood and taught in the (Synod of the Lutheran Church-Missouri), permeate everything that is done at Calvary Lutheran High School,” he says.

“The LC-MS teaches that God wonderfully creates each person as male or female and the rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person,” he later said.

Blair Oaks put the review of its policy on transgender students on the agenda for its June board meeting, but decided not to take action on it that evening.