Both the Community R-VI and Van-Far R-I School Districts issued prepared statements in regards to the recent U.S. Department of Justice letter sent to districts nationwide regarding the transgender issue.
Community R-VI Superintendent Cheryl Mack said her district received their letter by email.
She noted that in October 2015, the Board of Education at Community R-VI proactively adopted Board Policy 2115, which addresses the emerging issues of transgender students.
“This policy reflects best practice and is compliant with legal precedent and legislative adopted laws,” Superintendent Mack said. “Our duty is to do our best to meet the needs of every student in our district. The Community R-VI School Board is in charge of adopting local district policy and administrators along with the board will continue to work through this together.”
Van-Far Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hunter also said his district received the letter via e-mail.
“The emerging issues of transgender stu-dents has continually evolved over the past few months,” he added. “We will continue to work together with legal counsel and MSBA in crafting the proper policy structure as deemed necessary, in addition to Policy AC, which was adopted in July 2014. Our continued mission is to best to meet the needs of each and every student under our care.”
The letter reminded districts that Title IX, in which both districts receive federal funding for, prohibits sex discrimination for educational activities and programs operated by the districts receiving the financial assistance.
The same letter describes gender identify as “an individual’s internal sense of gender, which may be different from or the same as the person’s sex on their birth certificate.
“As a condition of receiving Federal funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations,” the letter explains.
Further down in the long letter it describes the importance of each district providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment.
It also looks for district staffs and contractors to use “pronouns and names consistent with a transgender student’s identity.”
It says transgender students must be allowed to “participate in such activities (i.e. using restrooms, locker rooms, shower facilities, housing, athletic teams, etc.) and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity.”
The letter was signed by Catherine Lhamon (Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education) and Vanita Gupta (Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Justice).
Districts were also encouraged to view the education’s office “Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender” students.