JCPS may add 'gender identity' to anti-harassment policy - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS may add 'gender identity' to anti-harassment policy

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The district’s current harassment and discrimination policy does not include gender identity and gender expression, which is something Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens wants to change. The district’s current harassment and discrimination policy does not include gender identity and gender expression, which is something Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens wants to change.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) –- The Jefferson County Board of Education is talking about changing its anti-harassment policy to include those who identify as transgender.

The district’s current harassment and discrimination policy does not include gender identity and gender expression, which is something Superintendent Donna Hargens wants to change.

"Every child deserves the opportunity to thrive in school," said one speaker addressing the school board Monday night.

"JCPS has really been doing a great job of inclusion of late," said another.

Those were just a couple of comments Monday night after Hargens recommended the school board make some changes to district policy.

"I faced both negative and positive actions from teachers and peers," said Casey Hoke.

Hoke came out as a transgender male his sophomore year at Dupont Manual High School.

"To go through name calling and harassment for your gender identity really really hurts,” said Hoke, “because, as a transgender student, I was finally expressing who I really was -- and being harassed for who I am was not cutting it for me."

Dr. Hargens says her recommendation is meant to protect students and teachers who identify as the opposite gender. If they feel threatened they would follow the same procedures as someone who files a complaint about being harassed for their race or age.

Chris Hartman of the Louisville based Fairness Campaign says it's a step in the right direction and protects civil rights.

“All this does is say that yes that everybody has the right to believe what they want to believe,” said Hartman. “But everybody also has the right to be who they are and for being protected for being who they are."

The transgender issue also came up last year at Atherton High School where a male student identified as female. The site based decision making council (SBDM) ultimately voted that she had the right to use the girls' restroom.

Board member Linda Duncan, one of two who voted against the first reading of the policy change Monday, says singling out every group could end in a lawsuit.

"It's not that I'm opposed to the language addition,” said Duncan, “but I think we've got to be very cautious and understand that these changes have impacts."

Monday’s vote was the first of two.

The board will take up the issue again on Aug. 24 and make a final decision.

More: JCPS looking to expand anti-harassment policy to include gender identity

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