Thursday, May 15, 2014

Louisville High School Has Trans Drama

Back when I lived in Louisville as a Texan in exile, one of the fights I was involved in was a 2007 battle with the JCPS school board to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the JCPS nondiscrimination school board policies for students and employees.

To my dismay gender identity was stripped out of it in committee.   After some contentious public hearings the gender identity free policy passed on a 4-3 vote. 

I warned at the time the issue of transpeople in JCPS was not going to go away and it was better to be proactive about it than reactive.   JCPS superintendent Sheldon Berman claimed during the committee hearing in which gender identity was stripped out of the proposed additions to the JCPS non discrimination policy, that gender identity issues were 'too new' despite the presence of moi and a newly out trans teacher present to suggest otherwise..   

Now that lack of forward vision by the JCPS board is popping up seven years later.

A freshman Atherton High School trans feminine student recently asked AHS Principal Thomas Aberli for permission to use the girls facilities.   He granted permission for the trans student to do so, and seven cis feminine students immediately complained along with their parents at the Highlands area school.

Atherton was named to US News and World Reports list of Best High Schools in the US in 2013 and is the only public HS in Louisville with an International Baccalaureate program.

This has now blown up into a kerfluffle that will involve the Atherton Site Based Decision Making Committee with a meeting being held later today at 2:45 PM EDT to discuss adding gender identity to the school's non discrimination policy.  

It also makes crystal clear just how shortsighted the 2007 JCPS board decision to not address gender identity and be proactive in creating policies to cover thedistrict's trans students and JCPS employees was. 

"I have a responsibility to ensure that all of our students and staff are treated fairly and justly," Aberli said in a recent interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal. "At the same time, I also have a responsibility to educate our community on an issue that many are not familiar with and inform them about the rights of transgender individuals."

Chris Hartman, the director of Louisville's Fairness Campaign, said allowing a transgender student access to gender-specific restrooms is important not only for basic civil rights, but also for the safety of the trans student.

“A great deal of violence and sexual assault against transgender people, in general, and transgender youth occurs in restrooms,” he said.  “When we are talking about restroom accommodations being important it is about safety of all students and in particular the trans students.”

Dawn Wilson, member of the Metro Louisville Human Relations Committee had this to say in a statement. "As Education Chair of the Metro Louisville Human Relations Commission, I find it important that we show support for the students and the school; while urging the school board to adopt all aspects of the Metro anti-discrimination ordinances as a system wide policy rather than have school based decisions. This is the path we must tread."

Atherton High School's motto is Scholarship, Service and Self Respect.   Hope they, the AHS community and other interested parties keep that motto in mind when they conduct the SBDMC meeting later today.

TransGriot Update:  The meeting had several hundred people in attendance pro and con, and the policy passed.  

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