A state policy regarding transgender students has some Morgan County School Board members scratching their heads.
At issue is this wording: When a harassment incident takes place against a transgender student which is motivated by transgender status or gender expression, care should be taken to avoid disclosing the student’s transgender status to the student’s parents if the student has not consented to such.
While they all agree that the school must address any bullying, board members are asking if this means parents of the aggressor or victim, or both, cannot be informed of the transgender status.
“Whose parents can it not be disclosed to?” Superintendent Doug Jacbos asked. “This is new frontier. There are some provisions that a students can be transgender without telling their parents. I am not sure about that. We don’t want to be in the business where we are withholding information from parents about their own child.”
Student board member Abigail Collings said she knows of several bullying situations in the high school that parents are “completely unaware of” their students’ behavior. She said a student’s transgender identity should be shared with parents “to better protect the kid.”
Officially known as Policy FAB Transgender Students, the policy was written by Utah School Board Association (USBA) attorneys, has been reviewed by the Morgan School District’s policy committee and is based on state statute. The school board has responsibility for final approval.
“It is complicated, regardless of gender identity,” newly sworn-in Board Member Adam Toone said. “We are creating weird legal ground.”
He asked the board if a student claimed he had a “spirit animal” of a frog, for example, and all the student could do was ribbit all day in class, should the parent be told of the spirit animal even if the student didn’t want their parents to know they considered themselves a frog?
“As a parent, if my child is a victim, I want to know why,” Adams said.
The board failed to approve the policy at their Jan. 10 meeting but will consider it at their next meeting after Jacobs researches the intent of the wording.