JCPS a step closer to adding gender identity to policy

JCPS to review policies on discrimination

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Gender identity has been a focus of national conversation all summer long. Now, as the school year ramps up the discussion is headed to the classroom.

The Jefferson County Public School Board discussed adding gender and gender identity to its harassment and discrimination policy on Monday.

As written the policy includes "an individual's age, color, disability, marital or parental status, national origin, race, color, race sex, sexual orientation, political opinion or affiliation or religion."

[PREVIOUS STORY: Atherton HS takes first step to protect gender identity]

The changes would include, "a student's race, color, national origin, age, religion, marital or parental status, political affiliations or beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran, status or disability." 

Dr. Donna Hargens said she recommended the changes because schools within JCPS are looking to the district for guidance on matters of gender and gender identity as they become increasingly present in school systems today.

In September 2014, Atherton High School made headlines for their anti discrimination policy that allowed a transgender female to use the women's restroom. The board upheld the schools decision after parent complaints which allowed the student to use the women's restroom.

Former DuPont Manual student Casey Hoke spoke to his experiences as a transgender male in high school. He explained while some teachers and students were accepting and supportive, others were not. He experienced harassment and even had a teacher standby as classmates made insensitive comments about his gender.

Hoke explained adding gender expression and gender identity to the harassment policy would give students a standard and faculty guidance in protecting transgender students.

"Students need to know that they can have somebody to go to if they are bullied or harassed for their gender or identity," he said.

The school board approved a first reading of the policy changes with Chuck Haddaway and Linda Duncan voting against it. However, Duncan said she did not vote against the changes because it added gender identity but because she was concerned adding more groups to the policy would end up excluding other groups and leave the school system vulnerable for litigation. She also asked that assistant principals and other staff who dealt with harassment issues be involved in reviewing the policy changes.

The board will vote again in two to four weeks to decide whether or not to include gender identity and gender expression to the harassment policy.

To view the recommended changes, click here.

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