School board in Alaska bans trans students from using bathroom of gender they identify with
PALMER, Alaska (KTUU/Gray News) - A school board in Alaska voted to suspend a policy that previously allowed transgender students to use the gendered bathroom which corresponded to the gender they identified with.
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District School Board’s vote was 5-1, KTUU reports.
The lone member of the board who voted no was Dwight Probasco, while the members who voted to suspend the policy were Jim Hart, Ole Larson, Tom Bergey, Jeff Taylor and Jubilee Underwood, according to KTUU. The board’s president was not present at the meeting.
The school district’s superintendent, Randy Trani, said in a letter to parents the agenda item was proposed by the school board’s policy committee. The policy committee provided a statement saying that a decision by the federal judge triggered the policy revision.
The removal of the policy means any transgender students within the school district must use bathrooms that correspond with the gender they were assigned at birth. However, KTUU reports the schools will “continue offering those students use of school bathrooms that provide individual locked access and privacy.”
Vincent Feuilles, president of LGBTQ+ and allies nonprofit organization The Queen’s Guard, said the suspension of the policy could potentially harm transitioning students who haven’t come out yet.
“You now have someone who looks, sounds, walks, appears to be a person who is a cisgender — or a person who was born male — going into women’s spaces,” Feuilles said. “You have taken them out of the spaces that match their gender identity and moved them over here, so now you have just outed this kid.”
Feuilles attended Wednesday’s meeting but was unable to testify due to the signup sheet being full. He said he heard a lot of misinformation coming out of various testimonies and hopes that the policy committee will invite his organization into the conversation when the guidelines are rewritten.
“One or two of the board members had said that they were going to reach out to the trans community because they wanted input and information on how to, hopefully, create a positive interaction,” Feuilles stated. “As the president of The Queen’s Guard, we’re willing to offer and extend that out to the school board.”
Trani stated in his letter that he was enacting the policy revision as directed by the school board’s 5-1 vote. KTUU reports the policy went into effect district-wide the next day.
“Pending a permanent resolution to this issue, I am suspending the use of bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with student gender identity in compliance with the Board’s directive,” Trani said. “Transgender students will still be offered the use of bathrooms and locker rooms which are individually locked. All students will have access to communal bathrooms and locker rooms that match their sex assigned at birth.”
In June, the board voted to approve a ban on trans athletes competing in girls’ extracurricular and co-curricular activities sponsored by the district. Probasco was also the lone no vote in the 6-1 decision to pass Board Policy 6145.
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