May 27, 2020
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School committee considers new transgender policy

Hadley Barndollar | Portsmouth Herald
Hadley Barndollar | Portsmouth Herald
Members of the Kittery School Committee consider a proposed policy on transgender and gender expansive students at their meeting Tuesday night.

KITTERY, Maine — The School Committee held a first reading Tuesday night of a new policy proposal on transgender and gender expansive students, outlining how the district will address the needs of such students moving forward.

The policy, which includes definitions, support, training and issues of school record, states that the district will accept a student’s assertion of their gender identity without requiring any medical or mental health records. In the event that a student and their parent do not agree on the gender identity or expression, the school district will abide by the wishes of the student.

The proposed policy was drafted by the district’s Policy Committee, and requires two public readings before the School Committee then decides whether to adopt it as written. Its purpose is to foster a learning environment that is “free of discrimination, harassment and bullying for all students.”

Per the policy, any transgender or gender expansive student or their parent may contact school personnel to make an additional support plan for the student. Supplemental to that, the Kittery School District will develop procedures for staff to follow in order to provide that support.

The issue of school records was raised by School Committee members, as schools are required to maintain a permanent record for each student including their legal name and sex. The student’s official record will continue to bear their legal name, unless changed by a court order, but the school district will use the student’s preferred name and pronouns on all other documents including school identification, classroom rosters, certificates, diplomas and yearbooks.

Students will also be addressed by staff and other students by their preferred name, according to the policy.

School Committee member Kim Bedard called the proposal “a really important policy to have and probably way overdue.”

Superintendent Eric Waddell said the district was exploring additional gender choices for students to select on the schools’ online learning and classroom management platforms.

“As schools adopt policies around students who are transgender or gender expansive, Infinite Campus and PowerSchool, they’ll have to come up with something to keep up with that,” he said. “I have to expect that’ll happen sooner or later.”

The policy proposal also states that students will be permitted to use restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities corresponding with the gender identity they assert at school.

“The superintendent and/or building principal shall institute in-service training on this policy and distribute educational materials about transgender and gender expansive issues to school staff on an annual basis,” the policy said.

The proposed policy will soon be posted on the district’s website for public input ahead of the June 5 School Committee meeting, where a second reading will be held. Two other policies regarding student wellness and immunization of children are also up for consideration.

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