O’Fallon school board could change policy on transgender students tonight

O’FALLON — The school board for District 90 in O’Fallon will be looking at two possible revisions in their policy towards transgender students, a local newspaper reported.

The Belleville News-Democrat reported that the district is under pressure from two statewide groups to update the policy they voted on last year. According to the newspaper, the school does not allow students to the use the bathroom of their identified gender, only biological. And all student records are in the student’s “legal name.” To the school board, students are the gender assigned at birth is what determines their sports teams and what facilities they use. The current policy was put into place after a transgender student asked to use the bathroom in a nurse’s office two years ago.

The school board also came under pressure when a school board member, who is still on the board, called books on activism “social indoctrination” in May of this year.

The biggest difference, according to the News-Democrat, is the new policy would let students change their name once a year with the consent of a parent. Students could also ask the association overseeing their sport for permission to join a team based on their gender identity.

The board meets tonight at 7 p.m. at their offices, 118 E. Washington St. in O’Fallon.

Two statewide groups have been giving their opinions on what dircection the board should take.

The Illinois Association of School Boards (IASB), a voluntary of local school boards in the state, is suggesting that there not be any detailed anti-discrimination policy for transgender students, according to the newspaper.

“Adopting separate policies or inserting policy statements about accommodations and inclusion of transgender students in the educational program are unsettled areas of the law,” IASB stated in a note sent to the school board. “Some lawyers believe doing so may open boards to equal protection challenges for not creating separate policies for other protected statuses, e.g., race, nationality, religion, etc.” The News-Democrat reported that District 90’s lawyer agreed with IASB.

Equality Illinois, on the other hand, thinks that the current policy already violates several laws including the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and Title IX. EI and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance are wanting the board to update their policy to match recent federal court decisions, including one in Palatine near Chicago.

The full story is at the News-Democrat here.

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