Parents who’re upset the Sodus Central School District has allowed an 11 year-old male-born, transgender sixth grader to use the girls’ bathroom and locker room, spoke out at a school board meeting Tuesday night.
“I don’t want my child changing in front of someone they’ve known as a boy for over a year,” parent Debbie Galek stated.
However, according to Title IX, officials said sex-based discrimination is prohibited by schools. And, as a result, the district has said it plans to continue supporting the student.
“There has been publicity recently regarding a transgender student’s request to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with the student’s gender identity,” the district’s superintendent, Martin Cox said in a statement. “The district has granted the request, as required by federal and state law. However, the district is also taking steps to protect all students’ interests in protecting their privacy in such locations. The district’s actions are consistent with those taken by other school districts throughout the state and nation.”
Cox said the district is also working with community service agencies to help educate the community, and will hold a community meeting in two weeks regarding diversity and gender identity for parents and students.
Jennifer Surridge, mother of the transgender student, also spoke, in support of her daughter, at the meeting.
“My daughter has a civil right to be in the bathroom that she gender identifies with,” Surridge stated. “And, your children have the same right to be in the bathroom that they gender identify with. If they choose to leave, that’s a choice. My daughter is not choosing. She just is.”
In addition, Emily Henninger, president of the Trans Alliance of Greater Rochester, said it’s important for people to understand biological sex is separate from gender identity.
“I think that people generally look at being transgender from the wrong perspective,” Henninger stated. “The real way to look at it is if they were suddenly in the body of the opposite sex. What if you woke up one day, and your physical sex was wrong? Would you go about your day as you were, or would you pretend to be the opposite sex? It’s just a general lack of understanding. People are relating it to sexuality, and not gender. There’s a difference between the two. That’s the real perspective to go on.”
The full statement released by the Sodus Central School District is below:
“There has been publicity recently regarding a transgender student’s request to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with the student’s gender identity. The district has granted the request, as required by federal and state law. However, the district is also taking steps to protect all students’ interests in protecting their privacy in such locations. The district’s actions are consistent with those taken by other school districts throughout the state and nation.
The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights issued guidance dated December 1, 2014, entitled, “Questions and Answers on Title IX and Single-Sex Elementary and Secondary Classes and Extracurricular Activities,” stating that “All students, including transgender students … are protected from sex-based discrimination under Title IX” of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal law. The guidance states that Title IX requires school districts and other recipients of federal aid to “treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes.” The U.S. Education Department, which administers Title IX, has taken the position that Title IX entitles transgender students to use bathroom and locker room facilities consistent with their gender identity, and that the provision of “separate but equal” facilities constitutes illegal discrimination. See Statement of Interest of the United States, submitted in the case of Tooley v. Van Buren Public Schools, pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Index No. 2:14-cv-13466-AC-DRG.
The New York Dignity for All Students Act (Article 2 of the Education Law) also prohibits school districts from discriminating against students based upon their gender identity.
The district is working with teachers, staff and students to respect all students’ interest in privacy in places such as bathrooms and locker rooms. The district believes that no student should have to feel uncomfortable in such settings.
Martin D. Cox
Superintendent of Schools
Sodus Central School District