Delaware area school districts say they were already addressing the Obama administration’s recent mandate on restroom and locker-room use by transgender students.
For instance, officials at Buckeye Valley School District they were ahead of the curve regarding the recent directive on transgender students being allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with the gender with which they identify.
The U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice addressed transgender rights May 13 in a letter to public school districts across the nation. The directive from President Barack Obama’s administration says schools that refuse to comply could lose federal aid, according to the Associated Press.
Buckeye Valley Superintendent Andrew Miller met with staff and students to discuss feelings on restroom use. “I wanted to get people’s perspectives and how to handle it,” Miller said.
Miller said he met with the student council to get their input. “We try to be a student-centered campus,” he said. “I think before it’s resolved, it’s going to elicit strong emotions.”
“Their thoughts varied, much like the adults do,” and “it hasn’t been an issue at Buckeye Valley,” Miller added.
According to Miller, the district has a “handful of transgender students.” Principals and staff sat down with each student to get their feelings on what they would like to do, he said.
“The students agreed on using staff restrooms that are basically single-stall restrooms,” Miller said. “Our end goal continues to be that all Buckeye Valley students feel safe and valued when they are on campus.”
“We’re hopeful over the summer there will be more specific guidance from the courts, legal counsel or the Ohio Department of Education,” Miller said.
Delaware City Schools officials have had a couple of students come forward. “Talked with the student and family to develop a good accommodation for that student,” said Jennifer Ruhe, director of communications. “No one has asked to use the opposite bathroom.”
Ruhe said the district wants the process to work for the schools and the students.
“We will continue to handle any situations on a case-by-case basis,” said Paul A. Craft, Delaware superintendent in an email to The Gazette.”We are dedicated to having an environment that is safe and supportive for all of our students.”
Olentangy school officials said in an email that they use the Ohio-based Neola company to craft their policies. “The board of education does not discriminate on the basis of the protected classes … sex (including sexual orientation and transgender identity), … in its educational programs or activities.”
Neola policies are used by districts in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice stated that the letter doesn’t add to the law but offers guidance and definition on supporting transgender students.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.