Trump ruling won’t change BG Schools’ transgender policy

Bowling Green High School hallway

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

Despite President Donald Trump revoking restroom rights of transgender youth in public schools, Bowling Green City Schools plans to continue accommodating the students.

The Trump administration recently withdrew Obama-era protections for transgender students in public schools that let them use bathrooms and facilities corresponding with their gender identity.

That change won’t affect Bowling Green schools, according to Superintendent Francis Scruci.

“We were already accommodating kids before” President Barack Obama’s ruling, so they will continue doing so now, Scruci said on Monday.

“We’re going to do what’s right for kids,” he said.

Scruci referred to a non-discrimination policy adopted by the board of education in 2014. That stands, regardless of an attempt by Trump to revoke rights of transgender students.

“We’re still going to protect kids and give them a safe place and a non-threatening environment,” he said.

Last year, when the Obama administration issued the restroom order, Bowling Green High School was already accommodating transgender students.

Principal Jeff Dever said last year the high school already had taken steps to make transgender students feel safe and welcome – by allowing students to use the restroom for the gender they identify as, and by calling students by their chosen names and pronouns.

“What I have heard from students is their greatest angst comes from using the restroom,” he said. “I understand that completely.”

The school also tries to accommodate transgender students in other ways. As soon as the student identifies as the other sex, the staff is instructed to use the student’s chosen name and matching pronoun.

“I’ve been told anecdotally that we handle it pretty well,” Dever said.

“As a public school we have a moral obligation to serve everybody,” the principal said. If a student identifies with a different gender, “we’re going to support them as much as we can.”

Most of the student body at the high school is similarly accepting, Dever said. The BGHS Gay Straight Alliance was honored last year by the city’s Human Relations Commission for its work in making all students feel safe and welcome at school.

“They are students who support their friends and classmates,” Dever said.

But the principal realizes that while many of the students are accepting, some are not.

“I think for some of our students, it’s always going to be an issue,” he said. “I just have to keep my eyes and ears open.”

The same can be said for staff, most who are sensitive to student needs.

“I’m not so naïve to think that some of my staff doesn’t have some resentment,” toward transgender students, Dever said. But that type of intolerance will not be tolerated, he added.

The principal also said he had received criticism from a few community members who feel the school is treating the issue too liberally.

“I’ve had some backlash,” he said. “You know what, that’s OK. We’re doing the right thing.”

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