Adoption of a transgender inclusion policy likely, according to the Chehalis superintendent; Council risks ending state funding without complying


By Eric Rosane / [email protected]

The Chehalis school district could jeopardize its public funding by failing to adopt a policy that promotes the inclusion of its transgender students and disowns harassment against them.

As of February 2020, the District and a small number of others in Washington have broken state law by failing to implement the Transgender Student Policy and Procedure in its anti-discrimination policies. The outline is presented in RCW 28A.642.080, which was adopted by the Legislative Assembly in 2019.

The school board, in a regular meeting on Tuesday, finally offered to table a decision on the policy, which was going through first reading, after an at times outraged crowd concerned about a clause allowing transgender students to choose toilets or toilets. changing rooms of their choice. , repulsed.

Through a spokesperson for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Education, Sarah Albertson, director of the OSPI Office of Equity and Civil Rights, said the program was working with districts, including understood Chehalis, one-on-one to make sure everyone complies with the new discrimination. law.

“A school district that violates Chapter 28A.642 RCW may be subject to corrective action and oversight by the OSPI, but sanctions could also include termination of all or part of the state dispatch or the ‘categorical money,’ she wrote in a statement.

It is currently unknown how many districts are currently in non-compliance, although the majority of them have adopted a policy. Albertson said that around last fall, about a third of all Washington state school districts reported that they had yet to adopt the gender inclusion policy, but that number had probably significantly decreased.

Chehalis Superintendent Christine Moloney said she was notified by the Equity and Civil Rights Office of the non-compliance on May 26. A policy aligned with the law was then added at the June 15 school board meeting.

Response from Superintendent Moloney

Speaking to The Chronicle on Friday, Moloney said district staff plan to provide the school board with more specific procedures and staff expectations, with assistance from the district legal counsel. She said she would explain what the district is currently doing to address bullying and discrimination among transgender students and how this relates to the model procedures the district needs to adopt.

Prior to the passage of the transgender discrimination bill, Senate Bill 5689, in 2019, the district was already working to tackle discrimination internally. The district has a staff member fulfilling the role of “senior manager” who receives official copies of complaints made about transgender discrimination and is aware of relevant policies.

“We have transgender students in our school system and we have had them for many years, and our staff are just looking after them,” Moloney said, adding that she didn’t think the adoption of a state-mandated policy “is really going to change our procedures at all.

The discrepancy just seems to be that the district has not coded it in the language. Chehalis’ neighbor to the north has been on a policy for several months now, Centralia Superintendent Lisa Grant confirmed in a text message.

Moloney said she was confident the school board would adopt a school policy to align with Washington state law because it is their “sworn duty” to obey the law.

“I believe it is safe to say that they will work together to meet the requirements of this law,” she said.

In order to prevent the district from evading the policy in the same way and being warned months later, Moloney said she wanted to put in place a staff-led system to review all policies aligned with the ‘Condition on a regular schedule. She said that she already regularly cross-checks the new OSPI policy as she received them with the ones they had in the books.

“It’s a big job if we don’t have the time to do it, but we’ll find a way to do it,” she said.

Politics at your fingertips

The main policy in place at Chehalis is said to be to create a safe and fair environment without discrimination for all students, regardless of gender expression, gender identity or sex – and this includes toilets and changing rooms.

Transgender students have largely not been included in Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits gender discrimination in public schools, but the US Department of Education of the Biden administration said this week that those students should be.

The departure of the former presidential administrations follows recent Supreme Court rulings which found that discrimination under the civil rights law in the workplace extends to transgender, gay and lesbian people, PBS reported News Hour.

The Ministry of Education’s change on the interpretation of Title IX could be seen as a standard for the inclusion of transgender students. Already this year, many state legislatures have passed policies prohibiting transgender students from playing sports and entering bathrooms of the kind they identify with. But Washington state seems to have a head start in enforcing anti-discrimination laws.

BP 3211, the policy presented to the school board earlier this week, if passed, would ensure that the board “recognizes the importance of an inclusive approach to trans and gender students with respect to key terms, communication and the use of nouns and pronouns. , student records, confidential health and education information, communication, toilet and locker room use and accessibility, physical and sports education, dress codes and other school activities, in order to provide these students with equal opportunities for learning and success.

The policy proposal also requires the Superintendent to appoint a Senior Contact Officer who will attend at least one mandatory training opportunity offered by OSPI.

“The policy and its procedure will support this effort by facilitating the district’s compliance with local, state and federal laws regarding harassment, bullying, bullying and discrimination,” the board policy reads. .

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