The Vermillion School District’s school board passed a new gender equity policy Monday night after more than three hours of contentious debate from the public.
The policy allows students to use the pronoun, name and restroom they prefer which corresponds with their “consistently asserted gender,” according to the policy.
Board members opted to remove the portions of the policy regarding the use of locker rooms, shower facilities and overnight accommodations and keep policy on procedure, confidentiality, restrooms, communications and activities.
Public debate on the policy included assertions from those opposed to the new rules that the policy would disrupt their children’s innocence, but statements from proponents included that passing the policy was morally right and that similar gender-affirming policies have saved transgender children’s lives.
This policy will both foster an education environment that is safe and welcoming for all students as well as comply with local, state and federal law, the draft policy states.
It establishes and defines that gender identity is held regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth and that students have a right to keep their transgender status private at school. One’s trans identity will be confidential and staff won’t disclose it unless legally required.
Pronouns used are the choice of the student, and legal name changes aren’t required for a student to use their preferred name for class lists, activities, the yearbook, etc. However, their legal name will be indicated in a student’s official records.
All students will have access to restrooms that are safe, comfortable and convenient for them.
For activities, students can participate in the interscholastic activities for the gender with which that student consistently identifies, subject to the policies of the South Dakota High School Activities Association.
The policy doesn’t prohibit any facility in the Vermillion School District from maintaining separate toilet facilities, locker rooms or living facilities “for the different sexes” so long as comparable facilities are provided.
The post first appeared on Argus Leader.