By: Kaylee Greenlee – dailysignal.com –
A group of concerned parents held a press conference just ahead of a scheduled Arlington County School Board meeting Tuesday evening about the adoption of a policy concerning transgender student protections in the school district.
“[Arlington Public Schools] has far overreached its authority in this matter, and needs to be reminded by concerned parents and community members that political and cultural pressures should never outweigh the school’s responsibility to make safe and healthy educational policy,” said Maria Keffler, spokeswoman for the Arlington Parent Coalition.
The press conference’s purpose was to publicly air that parents of children in Arlington Public Schools have felt unable to voice their concerns for child safety regarding the proposed policy implementation procedure, or PIP.
The coalition’s website says it promotes the district’s policies, “which respect parents’ constitutional right to maintain responsibility and authority over their children and their children’s education, and to raise children according to the family’s values.”
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“[The proposed policy] is an accommodation procedure, wherein transgender students are given preferences and privileges that deny other students their rights, such as Title IX protections for girls, and privacy rights for both boys and girls,” added Keffler.
Keffler said the school district has been working on the policy “exclusively” with Arlington Gender Identity Allies, a group made up of “parents [and] community members working to make Arlington Public Schools a welcoming place for transgender, nonbinary, [and] gender expansive youth/staff.”
She also complained that specific information on the policy proposal could only be received through Freedom of Information Act requests.
The policy being considered outlines a number of new rules for the treatment of transgender students.
Under the policy, the definitions for “gender identity” and “transgender” that are deemed acceptable by the school board are clearly spelled out.
Access would be granted to bathrooms and locker rooms that “correspond to a student’s gender identity,” and students would have the ability to participate in any “‘co-curricular or extra-curricular activity consistent with their gender identity,’ as regulated by the Virginia High School League.”
Overnight school events would allow students to sleep in a quarters consistent with the student’s gender identity.
Students would be allowed to use names and gender pronouns of their choosing that match their gender identity, with school staff making updates as needed to classroom records.
It is also stated that disclosing a student’s “transgender status, legal name, or gender assigned at birth” may be a violation of privacy laws.
If the policy is adopted, teachers would have to undergo periodic training to to keep up with transgender issues.
The policy proposal came after what Superintendent Patrick Murphy said is needed to ensure compliance with the school board policy known as J-2 Student Equal Educational Opportunities/Nondiscrimination.
“It is the responsibility of each Arlington Public Schools staff member to ensure all students, including transgender students, have safe, supportive, and inclusive school environments,” reads the policy document, which would serve as a supplement to the existing J-2 policy.
After the press conference, 39 community members showed up to voice their thoughts on the proposed policy at the public school board meeting.
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