NLS school board vote on transgender policy expected Monday
NEW LONDON -- A proposed transgender inclusion policy, which has undergone three revisions so far following strong public opposition, is on the agenda Monday night for the New London-Spicer School Board.The board is expected to take action on the...
NEW LONDON - A proposed transgender inclusion policy, which has undergone three revisions so far following strong public opposition, is on the agenda Monday night for the New London-Spicer School Board.
The board is expected to take action on the proposal.
Board Chairman Robert Moller has said that action could be a vote to approve or reject the policy or a vote to table the policy and send it back for further review.
The district had been studying the issue for several months before having a first reading of the first draft of the policy March 14.
During the second reading April 1, a crowd of almost 200 people attended the meeting and spoke for about 2-1/2 hours on the pros and cons of the proposal while the board listened.
There were comments made in support of the policy - including from a local medical doctor, parents and students.
But most of the comments were from those who opposed the policy - primarily because of provisions that would allow a student to use a bathroom or locker room that align with their gender identity.
There were also concerns expressed about potential classroom curriculum pertaining to gender diversity and worries that boys would claim to be transgender to get into the girl’s’ locker room.
The revised policy that will be before the board Monday appears to have been changed to reflect many of those concerns.
In the latest draft, several entire paragraphs have been crossed out, including segments about fostering awareness and education about gender diversity in the classroom and community.
A provision to provide instruction to students on diversity - including gender diversity - is no longer in the latest version of the proposed policy.
The new draft eliminates a statement that classmates would be informed of a student’s transgender status if the student and their family thought the support of peers would be helpful to the student.
A provision that would have allowed students going on overnight school trips to participate based on their gender identity has also been removed and instead that issue would be decided on a case-by-case basis.
The revised policy includes a clarification that would require a transgender student to provide a written statement from a doctor to verify the student’s “consistent and uniform gender-related identity or sincerely held gender-related identity.”
The introductory statement of purpose in the policy calls for fostering a safe and supportive environment that’s and free from discrimination that “all students” need in order to have academic achievement.
The policy has undergone a legal review by the district’s attorney.
But the changes in the language of the policy may not be enough for the critics to accept.
A group that calls itself NL-S Safe began circulating a petition last month that opposes “any new policy” the district proposes to address transgender or gender nonconforming students.
The group maintains the district’s existing policies are adequate.
In anticipation of another large crowd, the meeting will be held in the NLS High School cafeteria.
The board will hold a listening session at 5:30 p.m., where residents can make comments about any school issue.
The board is expected to issue a few ground rules for the session. Only residents in the NLS school district will be allowed to speak, unless they are students or parents who open-enroll into the district or are NLS staff that live outside the district’s boundaries.
Individuals will also be limited to one trip to the microphone and the audience may be asked to refrain from applauding following a speaker.
The regular board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m., where the public can also speak during the “comments from visitors” segment. Individuals who spoke at the listening session will be allowed to speak again during the official meeting comment period.
At a previous meeting, Moller said the “last thing I want to do is cut anybody off” but said time limits will be set in order to allow time for the maximum number of people to speak.