Cascade schools | Board proposes procedures protecting transgender students

Source: The Wenatchee World


LEAVENWORTH — More than three years after adopting its official policy protecting transgender students from discrimination, the Cascade School Board is taking a look at adopting the procedures to go with it.

That includes allowing students to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity.

Procedure 3211-P goes to the board Monday for a first reading. The four-page document mostly mirrors the model recommended by the Washington State School Directors Association.

This is an equity and civil rights matter coming to us from the state and OSPI,” Superintendent Bill Motsenbocker said. “The board’s choice is to follow the state’s directive or defy state law and oppose it. I do not believe our school board will choose to defy state law, but ultimately the choice is up to the five board members. To defy the law would most likely bring a costly lawsuit by civil rights groups.”

The proposed Cascade procedure also adds a line to the state model: “If a student prefers to use a private restroom, one will be made available.”

The board approved Policy 3211 in August 2015, following state law then supported by Obama Administration-era federal guidelines calling for school districts to treat students “consistent with the student’s gender identity.”

The federal guidelines were rescinded in February 2017, under the Trump Administration, but state Superintendent Chris Reykdal at the time said state law prevailed.

State law continues to protect transgender students from discrimination in school, which includes names and pronouns, dress codes, student participation in sports and physical education, harassment and students’ use of restrooms and locker rooms,” Reykdal said at the time.

Many school districts across the region adopted Policy 3211 and put it into practice without putting procedures in writing, waiting for the state models to be developed. Cascade was one of those.

A state model is now in place.

Rather than adopting Policy 3211, the Wenatchee School District opted to build the transgender protections to other non-discrimination policies.

Eastmont adopted both policy 3211 and its accompanying procedure in 2015.

The protection of transgender students from harassment, intimidation, bullying and discrimination continues to be a discussion at the state level.

Substitute Senate Bill 5689, which passed out of the Senate and is due for a public hearing Thursday in the House Committee on Education, calls for each school district to appoint one person as the contact for transgender student policy and procedure and requires OSPI to develop training for that contact.