Policy on gender identity concerns parents

The Bartholomew Consolidated School Board once again fielded questions Monday night from local parents who raised concerns about the consequences of the district’s new policy to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

Although BCSC has provided protections for students based on sexual orientation and transgender identity since 2013, the board voted at its May 23 meeting to also include gender identity as a protected class.

Three parents at Monday’s meeting expressed concerns about students being allowed to use restroom and locker room facilities that align with their gender identity, not their biological gender.

They said the existing policy protecting transgender students was never included in the student handbooks that parents have to sign each year. If it had been included, the parents said they might have been less inclined to sign off on the handbook.

In response to that concern, board member Jeff Caldwell suggested that the board take a closer look at which policies make it into the student handbook and which policies are listed only online.

Additionally, board president Jill Shedd reassured the parents that the board would continue working with district leaders to ensure all students feel safe and comfortable in school.

The policy change comes in the midst of a heated national debate about LGBT rights, particularly the rights of transgender people to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity. District superintendent John Quick said he thinks the national conversation has increased parents’ interest in the local school board policy.

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.