SAS Trans Policy Explained

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What sort of environment will Saline Area School’s trans students be facing when they go back this year? The Board of Education is hoping that the new trans policy that they are working on will ensure that they enter an environment with clear rules prohibiting bullying and harassment for their gender identity.

Some parents objected to there being a trans policy at all at the last full School Board meeting. But Davis, who has a gender non-conforming child, said that the policy was already mostly covered in the anti-bullying policy and that the policy as proposed doesn’t take the views of parents with conservative views into consideration.

“I understand why they think they need a transgender policy. I think that 50 percent of it is already covered in our anti-bullying, anti-harassment [policy],” Raelyn Davis said. “I don’t think that everything should be divided by gender. They should be divided by things like privacy. … I think we should be divided by sex. … Sex and gender are two different things. Let’s clarify what things are divided by what.”

Davis added that she has requested to see the policy but hasn’t seen it as of her interview with this newspaper, Wednesday afternoon.

Estep said that the changes to require protections for trans students is required by law through Title IX. The federal Department of Education announced last June that the Biden Administration will be interpretating Title IX’s protection against discrimination by sex to mean that it can require schools to prevent discrimination against students based on their sexuality or gender identity.

“We legally have to put these supports in place, because it’s discrimination if we’re not,” Estep said. “So legally we have an obligation, and I think morally, we have an obligation to protect these students, who are at risk for suicide, bullying, and harm.”

This will include changes in bathroom use and sports use for trans students. This policy change came after the United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Bostock v. Clayton County that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers LGBTQ Americans in its prohibition of discrimination by sex.

This case concerned a educator in Texas that sued after being fired because his employer found out he was a member of a small gay baseball league. The Biden Administration has interpreted this to apply to LGBTQ students as well.

"The Supreme Court has upheld the right for LGBTQ+ people to live and work without fear of harassment, exclusion, and discrimination – and our LGBTQ+ students have the same rights and deserve the same protections. I'm proud to have directed the Office for Civil Rights to enforce Title IX to protect all students from all forms of sex discrimination. Today, the Department makes clear that all students—including LGBTQ+ students—deserve the opportunity to learn and thrive in schools that are free from discrimination,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release, last June.

Estep identifies as a queer woman and told the Sun Times News that her motivation for running for the Board of Education in the first place was because of the lack of LGBTQ inclusiveness in the Sex Ed curriculum. Inclusiveness that was not part of the previous iteration of changes to the Sex Ed curriculum nor the nondiscrimination policy, motivating Estep's run. It also motivated Estep's involvement in this policy change. 

Image Credit: Scot Graden.

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