Community meets on Troy transgender policy

Published: Monday, August 31, 2015 @ 10:07 AM
Updated: Wednesday, September 02, 2015 @ 3:48 PM


            Local schools weigh in on restroom controversy 
Local schools weigh in on restroom controversy 

Following the response to the Troy Junior High School transgender student using the boys bathroom, we reached out to area school districts with three questions regarding their policies. Their answers will be updated as we receive them. View school responses »


UPDATE @ 8:55 p.m. (Sept. 1): More than 100 people attended a community meeting at Koinos Christian Church also attended by Troy school board President Doug Trostle and two city council members.

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All of council and the mayor, as well as the district superintendent and the school board, had been invited.

Superintendent Eric Herman, hours before the meeting, said he didn’t think he would attend. “I’m not sure it would help,” he said.

Bryan Kemper, a Troy resident and president of Stand True Pro-Life Outreach who organized the meeting, said, “we want to discuss our concerns with each other and with them and give them a chance to respond to us.”

The community meeting was told there would be no public debate, no public forum, only discussion about the school board’s policy regarding the use of restrooms and transgender students.

Nine concerns that meeting organizers said they had heard about the policy were listed. The audience was told that a letter listing concerns and challenging the policy was delivered to school officials earlier in the day by the Alliance Defending Freedom organization.

UPDATE @ 8 a.m. (Sept. 1)

About a dozen people have gathered outside the Troy Board of Education office Tuesday morning in peaceful demonstration both for and against a decision to allow a student who identifies as a male to use the men’s restroom.

UPDATE @ 6:50 p.m. (Aug. 31)

The controversy with Troy City Schools about the use of restrooms prompted the following response from the Ohio School Boards Association:

Sara Clark, director of legal services for the Ohio School Boards Association, said her office has gotten a lot more gender identity questions from school districts recently, citing media attention about the topic.

“I think a lot of (students) who maybe haven’t been comfortable coming out at school or having the conversation with their school district are now having those conversations,” Clark said.

Clark wrote a November article on transgender students that was sent to Ohio school districts by OSBA.

On one side, the article reports, there are no explicit federal legal protections for transgender students, and while more than a dozen states have their own laws offering some protections on the basis of gender identity, Ohio is not one of them.

On the other side, Clark said, the federal departments of education and justice argue that discrimination on the basis of gender identity or transgender status is “based on sex” and therefore in violation of Title IX (as Troy said).

The conflict creates a type of legal limbo that could eventually be decided by a Supreme Court ruling.

FIRST REPORT

The Troy City Schools superintendent said Monday that the district is complying with law in allowing a student who has declared they are of the male gender use the men’s restroom.

The district on Friday afternoon notified parents via a telephone message that denying a student’s request to use a restroom that matches the student’s gender identity is prohibited under federal Title IX.

As a result, the message said, students are allowed to use restrooms that match their gender identity. In addition, parents were notified that restrooms are available in each district building for students or visitors who do not want use the shared restrooms. Questions were referred to the office of Superintendent Eric Herman or any building principal.

Herman said school officials were approached by a student who has declared they are of the male gender and has asked to use the bathroom of that gender.

He said the automated phone message was distributed late on a Friday because that is when information was available to distribute to parents after discussions with legal counsel.

“We are trying to work our way through it the best we can,” Herman said. “My role in this is to comply with the law as superintendent.”

Bryan Kemper of Troy, who said he has six children in district schools, said he was “outraged” by the district’s message. He stood along Market Street near the board of education offices Monday morning with signs, one saying, and “My students deserve privacy/No co-ed bathrooms.”

He said a community meeting for concerned parents would be held Tuesday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. at the Koinos Christian Church at 722 Grant St. in Troy. “This will not be a debate or a bash session, we want an honest conversation about something many parents and students are deeply concerned about,” an email about the meeting said.

A parent of one high school student stopped to talk to Kemper as she headed for the board of education and the nearby high school. She said she planned to remove her daughter from the school.

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