LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Jefferson County Board of Education is scheduled to make a decision Monday on changing it’s anti-harassment policy to include transgender students.

As it is currently written, harassment and discrimination policy with JCPS does not include gender identity or gender expression. At an Aug. 10 board meeting, the issue was first discussed.

“Transgender kids are already so vulnerable,” Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman said. “Not only in Jefferson County, but the state and the United States.”

The recommendation to make the change came from superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens. She says the changes to policy are aimed to help protect both students and teachers. Under the new policy, transgender students who feel threatened would report the issue in the same way a student who was harassed for their race or age.

“So many LGBT kids don't feel safe at school,” Hartman said. “The vast majority don't. And so suicide rates are often three to five times higher than their straight peers.”

Board members passed a first reading of the change to the policy by a 5 to 2 vote. District 5 board member Linda Duncan voted against the measure, saying in part that it could open the door to legal action.

“It's not that I'm opposed to the language addition,” Duncan said following the vote on Aug. 10. ”But I think we've got to be very cautious and understand that these changes have impacts.”

The transgender issue has come up before in schools in Jefferson County. Last year, questions were raised about what restroom a male student at Atherton High School who identified as a female should use. Ultimately it was decided that that student had the right to use the girl’s rest room.

“Just by stating the policy, including the language, JCPS is making the school system safer,” Hartman said.

The school board meets Monday at 7 p.m. and is scheduled to vote on the issue.

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