This week, the St. Paul Minnesota School Board will take up a proposal titled the ‘Gender Inclusion Policy.’ Work on the policy began in February of 2014 and according to the St. Paul Public Schools website, the first reading will take place at the school board’s January 20th meeting with subsequent revisions and public feedback taken over the next three months.
Following reports of students being harassed and discriminated against for their gender identity, the policy aims to remove the inequities reported by LGBT students. Inequities that have been raised by the transgender and gender non-conforming student body include:
- Personal and data privacy breaches
- Intimidation from peers and adults
- A general lack of respect from adults concerning gender identity and expression
- Fear of harassment through intentional or unintentional “outing”
- Lack of access to facilities.
The rough draft of the policy begins:
and continues to define the scope of gender, gender identity, expression, intersex, gender non-conforming and continues to ensure gender inclusiveness and access to programming a facilities.
Draft policy points include:
- Respect all students’ gender identity and gender expression by honoring the right of students to be identified and addressed by their preferred name and pronoun.
- Prohibit, within academic programming, the separation of students based upon gender unless it serves as a compelling pedagogical (instructional) tool
- Permit all students to participate in co-curricular and extracurricular activities in a manner consistent with their gender identity including, but not limited to, intramural and interscholastic athletics
- Provide all students access to facilities that best align with students’ gender identity
“We are not some sort of predator,” a 9th grade student lamented, “We just want to use the bathroom without getting a tardy.” referring to teachers punishing students with late slips for seeking safe restroom environments.
The parent of a middle school child simply wants her daughter to have the same opportunities as her other daughter while another 11th grade student put it bluntly, “I refuse to be invisible.”
OutfrontMN fully supports the policy and in an email stated, “OutFront Minnesota supports the full inclusion for transgender students in all aspects of their education and development. We support the intentions of the St. Paul School Board and think their proposed policy is a good initial step forward. We look forward to seeing the district develop these concepts further.”
The St. Paul Public School Board requires a three month public review process and will be alloting a half hour per meeting for public feedback. Each speaker will be allowed 3 minutes and students will be given priority over adults. This meeting comes approximately a month and a half after an emotional debate at the state level over the passage of the transgender student athlete policy passed in December by the Minnesota State High School League.