Trans Students, Educators Protected in Kentucky’s Largest District

Trans Students, Educators Protected in Kentucky’s Largest District

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Photo: jglsongs
Photo: jglsongs

By Alex Temblador, The Next Family

With the recent attack from One Million Moms (an anti-gay “family” group) on trans teen, Jazz Jennings, it can sometimes feel as if the world is going backward: adults attacking children? There is something inherently wrong with that picture. However, we have finally received some positive news on the transgender youth front. Transgender students and educators in Kentucky’s largest school district are now protected under the districts anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy.

This policy did not come without a fight. Senator C.J. Embry Jr. introduced SB 76 back in February. If passed it would have required trans students to use the bathroom that identified with their biological sex, not their gender identity, and furthermore, it could have created an atmosphere in which students would have become “bathroom bullies” or monitors against trans students. Thankfully, the bill failed in March.

So it is with immense relief and joy to see the Jefferson County Board (which serves Louisville and surrounding towns), pass a policy that will protect rather than harm trans students, educators, and staff. They even tweeted out an awesome picture following the decision.

Despite the four or five unsatisfied comments to the tweet, it has already been favorited 117 times and retweeted 73 times by parents, advocates and students. Beyond Twitter, there was support before the passing of the policy. Board vice-chairwoman Diane Porter received numerous emails and calls in support of the policy change before Monday night’s vote.

School board member Lisa Willner expressed her happiness with the passing of the bill, saying: “This is a great night for equity. I am proud of this board for passing this policy.”

She added that this does not mean that trans students and staff will be free from discrimination but rather this will allow them to deal with discrimination by allowing them to report it. “Now that we’ve passed this policy, we have a responsibility to make sure training is available,” Willner said.

The bill was passed in a 6-1 vote, however the woman, Linda Duncan, who cast the one vote against the new policy explained her reasoning was not due to discrimination. Rather she voted against the measure because she wasn’t satisfied with how the policy was written to enforce the rule and she feared legal action from the Kentucky School Board Association who have apparently advised specifically against adding gender identity and expression to the policy because state law doesn’t protect either one.

Still we are glad to see that six members of the school board voted in favor of this policy. We see a group of men and women who decided to take a stand for the rights of their trans students and educators, even when their own state will not.

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