On May 13, 2016, the US Department of Justice and Department of Education issued a letter of significant guidance, “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students” to every public K-12 school in the country.
Some highlights from this letter:
- Students are allowed to claim whatever sexual identity they choose.
- The Departments treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex, regardless of sex on the birth certificate, for the purpose of Title IX regulations.
- Under Title IX, a school must treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their education records or identification documents indicate a different sex. The Departments have resolved Title IX investigations with agreements committing that school staff and contractors will use pronouns and names consistent with a transgender student’s gender identity.
- In order to continue receiving Title IX funding, schools must meet with the requirements of the letter.
- Restrooms and Locker Rooms. A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity. A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so. A school may, however, make individual-user options available to all students who voluntarily seek additional privacy
- Housing and Overnight Accommodations. Title IX allows a school to provide separate housing on the basis of sex. But a school must allow transgender students to access housing consistent with their gender identity and may not require transgender students to stay in single-occupancy accommodations or to disclose personal information when not required of other students. Nothing in Title IX prohibits a school from honoring a student’s voluntary request for single occupancy accommodations if it so chooses. (The “it so chooses” is direct wording from the letter. Already the federal government is not recognizing he or she)
So let’s put this into practice. The Lincoln High School Band is going to the Rose Parade. If a boy self identifies as a girl, the school may offer him a separate overnight accommodation. This boy, who says he feels like a girl on the inside refuses the separate accommodation. He MUST be allowed to room with girls at the hotel.
Again, if a boy identifies as a girl, the school cannot force him to use the boy’s locker room or restroom. The school can offer a private facility, but he has the right to refuse that accommodation. If he refuses, according to this letter of “significant guidance” threatening Title IX money, the school cannot force him to use the private facility. The school MUST allow him to use the girl’s restroom and locker room.
While the letter does not carry the force of law, the message is clear. Fall in line or face loss of federal funding.
On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley announced that South Dakota will be joining other attorneys general in the lawsuit to challenge the federal bathroom and locker room mandate. I want to thank Attorney General Jackley for his leadership for the state of South Dakota on this issue.
On Thursday, June 9, 2016, the Sioux Falls School Board posted the agenda for the June 13, 2016 meeting. One agenda item caught my eye. Item 11.
- Review/Revision of Sioux Falls School District Policies/Regulations (Exhibit)
- Policy/Regulation AC/AC-R – Equal Opportunity/NonDiscrimination
- Policy/Regulation DJ/DJ-R – Expenditures
- Policy EB – Safe and Secure Environment
- Policy/Regulation GBAA/GBAA-R – Harassment
- Policy GBEA – Nepotism
- Policy GBEAA – Personnel – Conflict of Interst
- Policy GBEB – Code of Conduct
- Policy GBEBC – Staff Gifts and Solicitation
- Policy/Regulation GBEC/GBEC-R – Drug-Free Work Place
- Policy/Regulation GCCAC/GCCAC-R – Family and Medical Leave Act
- Policy/Regulation GCG/GCG-R – Substitute Teachers
- Policy/Regulation IJNDC/IJNDC-R – Acceptable and Ethical Use of Tech Resources
- Policy Regulation IJOC/IJOC-R – School Volunteers
- Policy/Regulation JCA/JCA-R – Assignment of Students to School, Open Enrollment and Nonresident Students
- Policy/Regulation JRA/JRA-R – Student Records
- Policy/Regulation JIAA/JIAA-R – Harassment
- Policy/Regulation LBC/LBC-R – Relations with Nonpublic Schools
The exhibit showing exactly what the changes are was not posted until Sunday morning, one day before the meeting. It may have been posted some time on Saturday, but it was not there on Saturday morning when I checked.
The exhibit showed that buried in all those changes, are policy changes to match federal law and guidance in accordance with the letter from the US DOE and DOJ. And not only that. In the Executive Summary, it says, “The referenced policies/regulations have been reviewed by administration and the Policy Review Committee. Given the minimal revisions to the policies, second readings are not necessary. (See Policy BG – School Board Policy Process).” Seriously, the Board feels that the guidance given for locker room, restroom, and hotel rooms are “minimal revisions”? And there will not be a second reading to give parents the opportunity to weigh in on these changes?
So, the Board is planning on updating all of those policies, including the gender identity policies, in one fell swoop, without giving the public a chance to comment on these changes before the second reading.
- I have to question the judgement of the Board calling these changes “minimal changes”.
- Why the rush? Why the secrecy? Why not put these policy changes out there for the public to be aware of what you are trying to do to our children. Why not a second reading? Is it because the letter warned of pushback school districts would receive from parents?
- Attorney General Jackley is challenging these awful federal guidance changes. As long as we are involved in a lawsuit, the federal government cannot touch any school’s Title IX funding until the lawsuit is settled, all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
- If the lawsuit is settled in favor of the states who are bringing a suit, and the Sioux Falls School District has adopted these policies, we will still be stuck with these changes.
- And last, but certainly not least. This Board seems to be willing to sell the well-being of our children in the name of the almighty federal dollar.
Here’s what needs to happen.
- It is of utmost importance that you contact the Sioux Falls School Board members and ask them to not make any policy changes until the lawsuit challenging the federal government guidance is resolved. Please, you must contact them immediately as we only have about 24 hours until the vote,
Kent Alberty President (605) 334-9762 Kent.Alberty@k12.sd.us
Todd Thoelke Vice President (605) 339-2809 Todd.Thoelke@k12.sd.us
Douglas C. Morrison Member (605) 351-3797 Doug.Morrison@k12.sd.us
Kate Parker Member (605) 275-3497 Kate.Parker@k12.sd.us
Carly Reiter Member (605) 371-1770 Carly.Reiter@k12.sd.us
Dr. Brian L. Maher Superintendent (605) 367-7900
- It is vital that you attend the Sioux Falls School Board meeting. I know this is short notice. We can thank the Board for that. The well-being of your children and grandchildren depends on you being there to tell the Board NO to these policy changes.