Sequim schools eye transgender policy

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– Sequim school directors will hear for the first time Monday a proposed policy to prevent discrimination against transgender students.

The board will meet at 5 p.m. in the district office at 503 N. Sequim Ave.

The policy, required by state mandate, would prohibit discrimination against transgender students and require public schools to use the pronoun of the student's choice.

A similar policy was met with controversy after being introduced to the Port Angeles School Board earlier this year.

After receiving outcry from a number of community members, the Port Angeles panel opted to delay its decision on transgender student policy.

Sequim Superintendent Kelly Shea said district officials already have received some feedback from community members.

“And a lot of the same arguments we heard in PA are coming up now,” Shea said.

A special subcommittee in the Port Angeles district is now considering how to address concerns of transgender students and their families along with those who said the transgender rules were “against our culture.”

Shea said the school district has been working to address the concerns of transgender students on a case-by-case basis thus far but has not had a firm policy in place.

State requirement

The state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction instructed schools to put policies in place to prevent discrimination against transgender students.

The policy calls for schools to allow transgender students to dress in a manner appropriate to their gender identification and requires that students be addressed by the pronouns of their choice.

It also requires students be allowed to use the restrooms or locker rooms of their choice and to provide alternatives for students requiring or wanting more privacy.

All districts in the state are required to implement a policy that complies with state law by the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.

Candidates interviewed

In other business Monday, the School Board will interview candidates to fill out the unexpired term of Sarah Bedinger, who resigned from the board June 17 after 11 years.

The appointee, who will represent the west side of the school district, will serve until the term expires in November 2015.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 20. 2014 8:30AM
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