Schools seek ad­vice on gen­der di­rec­tive

Record Observer - - Opinion -

CEN­TRE­VILLE — Queen Anne’s County Pub­lic Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent, Dr. Carol Wil­liamson is­sued is­sued a state­ment Fri­day, May 13, say­ing the lo­cal school sys­tem is seek­ing clar­i­fi­ca­tion from the state on how to han­dle a di­rec­tive from the United States Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion to al­low trans­gen­der stu­dents to use bath­rooms that match their gen­der iden­tity.

“This morn­ing [Fri­day, May 13] Queen Anne’s County Pub­lic Schools learned through news re­ports, of a let­ter from the United Stated Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion go­ing to all school sys­tems re­ceiv­ing fed­eral funds. It di­rected them to al­low trans­gen­der stu­dents to use the bath­rooms that match their gen­der iden­tity. As a re­sult of this or­der, we are re­ceiv­ing calls and emails from par­ents,” Wil­liamson wrote.

“While we have not re­ceived the let­ter, I do have ac­cess to it on­line. I am con­tact­ing the Mary­land State Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, other Mary­land su­per­in­ten­dents and our at­tor­ney to re­ceive guid­ance on the man­date, its scope, and any com­pli­ance op­tions avail­able to us. We will then com­mu­ni­cate to par­ents and em­ploy­ees any op­er­a­tional changes in our schools caused by this or­der. We know that there are strong feel­ings on both sides of this is­sue, but I need to bet­ter un­der­stand the or­der be­fore I es­tab­lish pro­ce­dures for im­ple­men­ta­tion. Thank you for your un­der­stand­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, when stu­dents or their par­ents, as ap­pro­pri­ate, no­tify a school that a stu­dent is trans­gen­der, the school must treat the stu­dent con­sis­tent with the stu­dent’s gen­der iden­tity.

Un­der Ti­tle IX of the Ed­u­ca­tion Amend­ments of 1972, schools re­ceiv­ing fed­eral money may not dis­crim­i­nate based on a stu­dent’s sex, in­clud­ing a stu­dent’s trans­gen­der sta­tus.

The guid­ance makes clear that both fed­eral agen­cies treat a stu­dent’s gen­der iden­tity as the stu­dent’s sex for pur­poses of en­forc­ing Ti­tle IX.

Any­one wish­ing to com­ment on this is­sue is en­cour­aged to email Wil­liamson or mem­bers of the school board. Con­tact in­for­ma­tion can be found on the QACPS web­site, www.qacps.org. The next school board meet­ing that will of­fer pub­lic com­ment is set for June 1 at the cen­tral of­fice in Cen­tre­ville. The board has an­nounced the pub­lic por­tion of the meet­ing be­gins at 6 p.m., even though the ac­tual meet­ing be­gins ear­lier.

CAROL WIL­LIAMSON

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