MARION, Iowa – The Linn-Mar School Board on Monday voted 5 to 2 to advance an updated policy beyond the first reading addressing “transgender and students nonconforming to gender role stereotypes” in the school district.
The proposed policy clarifies their confidentiality policy as it relates to transgender students.
It states, “All persons, including students, have a right to privacy which includes the right to keep one’s transgender status private at school. Information about a student’s transgender status, legal name, or gender assigned at birth may also constitute confidential medical information. Disclosing this information to other students, their parent/guardian, or other third parties may violate privacy laws such as the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).”
It adds, “School staff should always check with the student first before contacting their parent/guardian. School staff should ask the student what name and pronouns they would like school officials to use in communications with their family. All students under 18 years of age should be aware that a parent/guardian has the right to review their student’s official records.”
The proposed policy also requires staff to address students by their preferred name and pronouns.
“Every student has the right to be addressed by a name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity. A court-ordered name or gender change is not required, and the student need not change official school records,” the policy reads.
The policy also states that transgender students have the right to access school restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity.
“With respect to restrooms, locker rooms, and/or changing facilities; students shall have access to facilities that correspond to their gender identity. Buildings may maintain separate restrooms, locker rooms, or changing facilities for male and female students provided they allow students to access them based on their gender identity. No student shall be required to use an all-gender or secure-access restroom, a nurse’s restroom, a privacy partition/curtain, and/or an all-gender locker room because they are transgender, gender nonconforming, or questioning their gender. Access to restrooms and locker rooms for nonbinary students and students questioning their gender will be determined on a case-by-case basis while providing students with options that allow for them to feel safest and most included,” the policy states.
It provides an exemption for students who feel uncomfortable with this policy.
“Regardless of gender identity, any student who is uncomfortable using a shared facility regardless of the reason shall, upon the student’s and/or a parent/guardian request, be provided with a safe and non-stigmatizing alternative. This may include, for example, addition of a privacy partition/curtain, provision to use a nearby private restroom/office, or a separate changing schedule,” the proposed policy states.
The school’s proposed policy appears to violate the new state law prohibiting biological males from participating in women’s sports that took effect immediately after passage.
“All students shall be permitted to participate in physical education classes, intramural sports, clubs, and school events in a manner consistent with their gender identity. Students may enroll in physical education classes that correspond with their gender identity, correspond with their sex assigned at birth, or that are not gender-specific. As a member of the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU), the district follows their policies and recommendations for transgender athletic participation,” it states.
School Board President Brittania Morey stated that the board would likely update the sports policy after receiving guidance from the Iowa Association of School Boards and noted that IHSAA and IGHSAU would likely update their policies and recommendations.
The proposed policy also addresses overnight trips.
“No student shall be denied the right to participate in an overnight field trip because the student is transgender, gender nonconforming, or questioning their gender. Students shall be allowed to room with other students who share their gender identity or where they feel safest and most included. Accommodations on overnight trips for nonbinary students and students questioning their gender will be determined on a case-by-case basis with an emphasis on providing students with options that allow for them to feel safest and most included. No student should be forced to room by themselves because they are transgender, gender nonconforming, or questioning their gender,” it reads.
Board members arguing for the policy say it reflects state law. However, the text of the Iowa Civil Rights Act does not explicitly require the policies outlined in this policy. In fact, the law says, “This section does not prohibit an educational institution from maintaining separate toilet facilities, locker rooms, or living facilities for the different sexes so long as comparable facilities are provided.”
In addition, the policy erroneously states that the federal Title IX law includes gender identity as a protected class, it does not, and the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, linking gender identity discrimination to sex discrimination only applied to Title VI. In a recent ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected the Supreme Court’s opinion that gender identity is included in sex discrimination.
Also, a person’s legal name and biological sex is not considered confidential medical information since that information is required on various kinds of identification cards, like a state-issued drivers’ license.
Board members Matt Rollinger and Barry Buchholz attempted to have the board table the policy unsuccessfully.
The new policy will be considered for a second reading as early as the next school board meeting on May 9.
Read the entire proposed policy below:Linn-Mar-Transgender-Policy