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Wis. school district adopts policy for transgender students

Wis. school district adopts policy for transgender students

JANESVILLE, Wis. — A Wisconsin school district has adopted a policy allowing transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room of the gender with which they identify if it’s OK with their parents and principals.

Janesville-WIThe Janesville School Board adopted the policy to bar discrimination based on gender identity, the Janesville Gazette reported Friday.

Craig High School teacher Katy Hess, who advises the Gay-straight Alliance, said she knows of five or six transgender students at the school and regularly hears club members talk about bullying and harassment that they have experienced.

“I have to commend the school board and the school district for stepping up,” Hess said. “The GSA and a lot of people were really pleased to see that.”

Hess said her brother was born a female but identified as male, and high school was a tough time for him.

“My brother wouldn’t go to the bathroom in high school because he wouldn’t go in the girl’s bathroom,” Hess said. “But he couldn’t go in the guy’s bathroom because he looked like a girl at that time. So just little things like that — where you’re holding your bathroom all day long —are things we take for granted.”

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The policy adopted by the board says schools will provide reasonable accommodations for transgender students, including use of single-sex facilities such as locker rooms, after receiving written requests from their parents or guardians. School principals must approve the requests.

Hess said Craig High School already has a gender neutral bathroom that is available to students.

“These kids have always been here,” she said. “They were here 10 years ago, they were here 20 years ago, and they were here 50 years ago. It’s just they were never safe to be who they wanted to be, and I think it’s positive to have an environment that they can just be themselves.”

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