Privacy, Safety, and Dignity for All CSD Students
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We, the concerned parents of City Schools of Decatur (CSD) students, unite petitioning that the privacy, safety, and dignity of all our students be respected in the forthcoming review detailing how to implement the gender identity portion of the nondiscrimination policy (Policy JAA - Equal Educational Opportunities).
We are opposed to the way that the process has moved forward and has been done in a way that did not provide transparency and community involvement to address all our students’ and parents’ needs and concerns. As such, it is currently severely flawed and in violation of the needs and rights of very large portions of our student population.
In his own words, Superintendent Dude instructed his staff in a July 26, 2016 memo not previously released to the public:
“To be clear, here are some examples of situations related to gender identity and how I expect them to be handled in compliance with this policy. For purpose of these examples, assume this student was assigned the sex of male at birth and now identifies as female.
-This student should be treated the same as any other female student.
-She should not be identified as anything other than female.
-She should be allowed to use the female restroom.
-She should be allowed to use the female locker room
-She should be allowed to try out for “female” sports
-She should be allowed to room with other females on field trips”
These guidelines from the Superintendent were never submitted to parents or to the School Board (who is accountable to parents) for a public vote. In short, issuance of these new guidelines – upending student privacy, equal opportunities in sports, and parental decision-making – was done in the dark without input from, or accountability to, us as parents.
While we agree that no child should be subject to harassment, bullying or denied equal educational opportunities for any reason, including gender identity, we strongly disagree with the implications that these proposed guidelines will create as it relates to the privacy, safety, and dignity of all students.
Many transgender activist groups insist that transgender students be treated in every respect as the gender they identify with, and not by their biological sex. We insist that there are areas in the education system where anatomical sex must be the sole distinctive trait considered. In these areas, gender identity is not interchangeable with sex (nor with race as was inappropriately claimed in the Superintendent’s memo).
Athletics are an obvious area where biological sex is not interchangeable with gender identity. Males have very real biological differences which give them a competitive advantage over females. It is unfair to allow a transgender student who identifies as a girl to compete on girls’ athletic teams. Biological female students will be denied equal opportunity in sports competition because transgender girls who are physically advantaged will displace them. This will also have an impact on female athletes’ ability to receive athletic scholarships. This would be a clear violation of the intent of Title IX.
Title IX also recognizes that locker room and bathroom access is another area that calls for sex segregation. Members of both sexes have come to expect that they will not be exposed to members of the opposite sex in areas where they are undressing or engaged in private bodily activities. In addition, our diverse student population has cultural modesty requirements, due to national origin and religious mandates, which forbid mixed anatomical sexes together in these areas.
Being one of the most diverse student populations in the state, CSD should lead the way in both accommodating gender nonconforming students while also fully protecting the privacy rights of all our students, including our diverse ethnic and religious groups. The school board cannot move forward with a regulation that undermines one of our best assets, our diversity. Until a regulation is acceptable to all these groups, it would be irresponsible to move forward with implementation of a severely flawed transgender policy.
For all the above reasons, we petition that any new guidelines provide for the strict sex segregation requirements in areas where all our students need privacy and security, and where our diverse religious and ethnic student population mandates modesty. We petition that any guidelines put forward must provide for strict sex segregation in athletics. We petition for transparency and parental input going forward to ensure these student rights are protected. It is the duty of the CSD School Board to protect the privacy, safety, and dignity of all students.
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