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Letter to the Editor: In response to ‘ETHS indefinitely delays transgender policy to comply with federal guidance, avoid legal action’

Jonathan Baum and Gretchen Livingston

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To the editor:

We are writing as individual members of the ETHS School Board, and attorneys, in response to your Feb. 19 article, “ETHS indefinitely delays transgender policy to comply with federal guidance, avoid legal action.”

The article appears to be based on incomplete information about the state of affairs on this issue at ETHS.

A more complete picture would include the following:

1. Citing an ETHS administrator, the article states that “officials have decided to indefinitely postpone enacting an official policy on transgender students’ use of gendered spaces.” However, such a decision could only be made by the Board of Education, and the board has not yet been given the opportunity to make such a decision.

2. The article states that ETHS “drafted an official policy in fall 2015,” and that “officials have delayed enactment to avoid legal action and comply with new federal guidance.” No draft policy was ever presented to the Board of Education, which is the only body that can make an “official policy” for ETHS. And the issue of delaying enactment of a policy was never presented for decision to the Board of Education, which has the sole authority to enact, or delay enactment of, a district policy.

3. As individual Board members, we do not agree that “enacting an official policy might open the school to legal action that might undo other measures already in place.” To the contrary, we note that the school already has a policy, Board Policy 7:10, that provides: “No student shall, based on . . . gender identity be denied equal access to programs, activities, services, or benefits.” To the extent that this policy should not, for some reason, be understood to guarantee transgender students access to the locker room consistent with their gender identity, we believe the Board of Education should be given the opportunity to enact a more explicit policy that would confirm this.

4. As individual Board members, we do not agree that “the terrain is way too turbulent at the moment to make our school a cause celebre for these things.” To the contrary, we believe that the Board of Education should have the opportunity to, as the ACLU representative quoted in your article says, “do the right thing.”

We look forward to the prompt scheduling of a meeting of the Board’s Policy Committee to address these issues.

Jonathan Baum
Gretchen Livingston