There’ll be lots of reactionary news coverage about this, so our purpose is to aggregate today’s breaking news about the actual guidance to keep facts in front of our readers.
Next, take a look at USA Today’s Q&A about the guidance. That will answer a lot of questions you may have.
One question that gets to the heart of the matter is this one:
Q: Can a school set up individual bathrooms specifically for the use of transgender students?
A: A school cannot require transgender students to use their own private bathrooms unless it does the same for all students. But the guidance also suggests that schools are free to come up with alternate facilities — including faculty restrooms or single-user restrooms — and offer them to transgender students if they’re more comfortable using them. Schools are also encouraged to put up curtains for additional privacy in locker rooms, and to allow — but not require — alternative schedules for transgender students to use facilities.
Then look at the New York Times’ coverage. Very informative.
Then read the actual “Dear Colleague” letter for yourself.
And then look at the 25-page compilation of best practices in supporting transgender students that accompanied the “Dear Colleague” letter.
As to how many students in the country identify as transgender, USA Today’s Q&A states “in 2006, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) conducted a survey of 6,209 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students involved in school groups and online forums. Of those, 295 — about 5% of the LGBT students surveyed — identified as transgender.” In 2009, GLSEN published a look at the “harsh realities” faced by transgender students based on that study.
Alabama state board of education member Matthew Brown (R-District 1) tried to introduce a resolution near the end of Thursday’s work session (discussion begins at 17 minutes, 58 seconds into the video) that would protect student privacy in bathrooms and locker rooms and “preserve competitive integrity in athletics for Alabama’s K-12 schools”.
Here’s Brown’s full resolution. The resolution requires a physician’s statement be obtained if a student’s “external biological sex characteristics are irresolvably ambiguous” verifying the student’s chromosomal makeup.
Board Vice President Jeff Newman refused to discuss the resolution during the work session, saying it was his prerogative to determine what is on the agenda. Newman told The Decatur Daily’s Mary Sell the resolution wasn’t vetted by the department’s legal staff and didn’t go through the proper channels, saying “It’s something (Brown) did on his own.… A resolution really holds no weight. If that’s going to be addressed, it needs to be addressed in the law (by the Legislature). Besides that, local boards set their policies. To me that shouldn’t even be written about because it wasn’t an item the board discussed, that was (Brown) on his own.”
It is unclear whether the resolution will appear on next month’s agenda.
Reaction from local school boards and Alabama families will likely blanket the news in the next few days.
Know the facts before you wade into the discussion.