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Shelton Mason County Journal
Shelton, Washington
Mason County Journal
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October 23, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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October 23, 2014
 

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Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014 -Mason County Journal- Page A-21 Policy: Board took commen00E:s on policy in September continued from page A-1 Jarvis told the Journal in a phone in- terview on Monday. "As a public agen- cy, you try to stay up with require- ments so we don't find ourselves in jeopardy of having an old policy." Chapter 28A.642.010 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) prohibits discrimination in public schools based on sexual orientation, including gen- der expression or identity. "This isn't new," said Shelton High School Principal Wanda Berndtson. "We're not on the cutting edge with our policy." The Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association developed policies for transgender athletes in 2007, she said. The Journal reached out to all five members of the School Board for ad- ditional comment. Tarzwell and Car- nahan responded. Carnahan told the Journal in an email Tuesday that he was most con- cerned with the idea that students of different biological sexes could be using the same bathroom and locker facilities. The policy requires that a trans- gender student be allowed to use an alternate restroom, or the restroom or locker facilities of the gender they identify with. "I am dismayed by the manner in which the Board conducted a vote and very limited discussion on the District's Transgender Student Policy," Carna- han wrote. "I was indeed outraged at the meeting, as I believe many parents and community members would be if they had been privy to the information I had." Carnahan said he felt the vote was rushed and told the Journal he was asked to refrain from offering his opin- ions on the policy. The School Board previously dis- cussed the policy and took public com- ments at its Sept. 23 meeting. "Honestly, most of the students I've worked with are not comfortable going into either bathroom," CHOICE Al- ternative School Principal Stacey An- derson told the Journal. "They're not going to try to make the point of a big bathroom display." If a problem results from the rest- room policy, it would become a disci- plinary issue, Anderson said. Tarzwell told the Journal in an email Tuesday she voted no because she was unsure whether the district's policy would allow all stu- dents to request the use of an alternate Jarvis restroom. After re- searching the issue, she said her concern has been ad- dressed. "I now have a reasonable expecta- tion that all students transgender or not have equal rights to an al- ternative restroom," she wrote in an email. Shelton School District administra- tors spoke out in favor of the policy at the Oct. 14 meeting. "It is really important we have a policy in place so we can protect these students," Anderson said. "These are truly students who identify as a gen- der different than what they were born with." Anderson said students identifying as transgender or gender nonconform- ing are in every age group in the district. She said more students at CHOICE have openly identified themselves as transgender in recent years. Berndtson said a few students at SHS identify themselves as transgender. Anderson told the Journal this week that students who identify them- selves as transgender are more likely to be homeless, use drugs or attempt suicide. "There were some good opinions expressed on both sides (at the Oct. 14 meeting) ... but there's also just a general lack of understanding in the community," she said. "I think that in talking to other buildings, Shelton has other students for sure ... who have been experimenting with their gender." The Shelton School District previ- ously had nondiscrimination policies, but they did not specifically refer to transgender or gender nonconforming students. Carnahan also said at the Oct. 14 meeting that "literally thousands" of people in the district were offended by the proposed policies. As School Board members talked over one another, member Gene Cra- AN OCCU HOME IMPROVEMENT LOAN HELPS YOU STAY ON TOP OF REPAIRS AND HOME IMPROVEMENTS. Borrow up to $15,000 for up to 120 months Skip a Payment twice a year, every year** Exclusively for Home Improvements 7.25% APR* No Equity Required No Fees *Fixed annual percentage rate and is effective as of August 1,2014. Loans are subject to approval. This is a limited time offer and may end at any time. **Conditions apply. OCCU Our Community Credit Union 800-426-5657 ourcu.com Shelton I Union I McCleary ] Etma [ Montesano t Vashon =, "There were some good opinions expressed on both sides (at the Oct. 14 meeting) ,,. but there's also just a general lack of understanding in the community," Stacey Anderson, principal of CHOICE AIternative School ter grabbed the gavel and tried to re- store order. "This is a law. I have personal opin- ions and so do you. This is a law," Cra- ter said to Carnahan. "The law says we must do this. There is no discus- sion." The state Legislature passed RCW 28A.642 in 2010. The Legislature di- rected OSPI to develop rules and guidelines to eliminate discrimination in public school employment, counsel- ing and guidance services for students, recreational and athletic activities, courses, and textbooks and instruc- tional materials, according to OSPI's guidelines. The law is also outlined in Chapter 392-190 of the Washington Adminis- trative Code (WAC). "It's not a question of morality. It's a question of legality," School Board member Cheryl Williams said just be- fore the board voted to pass the policy. The policy will standardize the way transgender students are treated through- out the school district, Jarvis said. "It directs the superintendent to de- velop procedures so we have a common policy," he said. Having a common policy helps ad- ministrators treat students fairly, Berndtson said. "That really helps us as adminis- trators follow the state law," she said. "Our No. 1 goal for these young people, as with all, is student safety." The newly adopted policy requires the school district to maintain records that accurately reflect a student's gen- der identity. It also requires that school employ- ees address transgender students by the personal pronoun of their choice and requires gender-neutral dress codes. The policy prohibits employees from disclosing a student's status as transgender or gender nonconforming. Anderson said students at Shelton schools seem to be accepting of their peers. "We haven't had any trouble with other students," she said. "Today's students are far ahead of us on this." The new policy also requires the dis- trict to provide training to administra- tors and other employees "regarding their responsibilities under Chapter 392-190 WAC prohibiting discrimina- tion against transgender and gender nonconforming students, and to raise awareness of and eliminate bias based on sex, sexual orientation and gender expression or identity." The policy also outlines how stu- dents can file discrimination and ha- rassment complaints. All such com- plaints are to be given "immediate attention" by the district's civil rights compliance coordinator. The policy states, "Complaints al- leging discrimination or harassment based on a person's actual or perceived gender identity O r expression are to be taken seriously and handled in the same manner as other discrimination and/or harassment complaints." A Conversation with: Joan Villa, an avid outdoor woman will be presenting Alaska: Wilderness, Glaciers and Bears  Oh my, Oh my! An illustrated talk on a month-long tour with her husband Alaska's National Parks Adventures on the Dalton Highway How to avoid flat tires on the Alcan St. Edward Social Hall Sun. Oct. 26 @ 1PM No charge, community invited. I LUBRICANTS COMPANY EATING OIL COMPARE OUR LOW PRICES! We carry kerosene. Located at Sanderson () "  Industrial Park 427-8084