The Provo City School District Board of Education voted unanimously to direct the superintendent to “develop policies and procedures to address gender inclusivity” within the school system which “afford the rights of all persons [to] a respectful school and work environment.”
“Discrimination because of gender identity, or because of transgender status, including sexual orientation, is discrimination based on sex and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972,” the policy states.
Provo High School teacher and club director for the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance was first to address the school board at their Dec. 8 meeting.
“I wanted to come to be a voice for the LGBTQ students in our district. These students have shared their intense struggles with me, and I take my role as their advocate extremely seriously. For many of you, these students may be vague and nondescript, but for me they are not just an LGBTQ student in our district — they are an individual. They have their own sense of humor, their own interests and dreams for their future.”
“LGBTQ students epitomize the students without a voice. These students don’t feel safe to speak for themselves because many of them are at risk for ostracization, humiliation, and often self-harm, potentially leading to suicide,” she continued. “The gender inclusion policy discussed is a huge, massive step in the right direction for our district. It will take a step in a longer and much-needed discussion in our district about how to support the social and emotional well-being of our diverse and at-risk students.”
“It is imperative for our LGBTQ students to feel safe at school; safe to express themselves; safe to use the bathroom where they feel the most comfortable; safe from not having their deadname plastered on the board when there’s a new seating chart in class; and safe from, most of all, bullying and humiliation,” she continued. “This policy has the potential to save lives.”
Kimberly House, a parent of a transgender child and chair of the school district’s LGBTQ Equity and Diversity Committee, presented the board a letter from over 180 people saying that the education of teachers is key.
“When I asked for my child to be able to use preferred names in school, I was told no,” she said. “As I pushed forward, my child was the first to be able to use their preferred name in school.”
“I’ve had to hospitalize my child twice. They are at high risk and we are losing them,” she said.
School board member Jennifer Partridge was glad that the board was considering what she called an important policy.
“All of our students need to feel seen and known, and everyone needs to be treated with respect and dignity,” she said.
The board went on to pass the policy unanimously.
Planet Transgender journalist Kelli Busey reached out to the school superintendent and other district leaders to find what the next steps are, and have found that they are not sure when spelling out procedures will happen.
Salt Lake City School District has put similar policies into place and it is suggested that the district can look to those as a guideline.
The policy approved, in full:
Gender-inclusive SchoolsProvo City School District
The Board of Education values diversity amongst its students and employees. As such, the board recognizes a need to adopt a gender-inclusive policy that will address the rights of all individuals, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity, to equal treatment under the law with regard to learning and/or work environments.
The board directs the superintendent to develop policies and procedures to address gender inclusivity within Provo City schools and afford the rights of all persons [to] a respectful school and work environment.
Discrimination because of gender identity, or because of transgender status, including sexual orientation, is discrimination based on sex and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
This policy is developed in conjunction with existing policies that address the prohibition of harassment, discrimination, hazing, and bullying. It is expected, regardless of gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sex, that the district create and maintain safe, civil, and inclusive learning communities. Therefore, employees of the district will be required to monitor and maintain safe learning environments and ensure all students are treated fairly and are respected as individuals within the overall learning community. Employee awareness training will be included within the procedure implementation to ensure school environments are gender-inclusive and safe for all students.