Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Fairbanks, Alaska School Board Panders To Transgendered Students, Votes 4-0 To Include "Gender Identity" In The District's Nondiscrimination Policy
On Tuesday February 3rd, 2009, during a meeting of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board, board members began discussion of a proposed amendment to the District's nondiscrimination policy to include gender identity and make "transgendered students" a protected class. They concluded the meeting by voting 4-0 in favor of the amendment, although the amendment was only up for a first reading. The measure would amend six different policies, including policy #130, 131, 534, 1011, 1012, and 1046.7. The District's policy manuals and administrative regulations are accessible via this link. [Note: Photo above left is of the infamous "pregnant man" Thomas Beatie, described in this ABC News report.]
Full story published in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, which inexplicably only published favorable reaction to the change (the 191 comments appended to the story make up for that deficiency).
The recommendation for the change was authored by the district’s policy review committee, which promoted the change to ensure the safety and protection of students who identify with a gender different from the gender assigned at birth. The issue was brought to the committee’s attention when a high school administrator and school counselor said students had raised concerns of bullying and harassment toward other students who might be questioning their gender identity.
The current policy addresses sexual orientation but not gender identity — which are two separate issues, according to Gayle Pierce, labor relations director for the district. “Gender identity is a distinctly different issue than sexual orientation,” Pierce said. “Sexual orientation refers to emotional and sexual attraction to another person based upon his or her gender.”
Pierce defined gender identity as referring to a person’s own internal and deeply felt sense of being a man or woman, which can be different from the gender assigned at birth. “These two issues should be specifically addressed because safety and privacy among those dealing with gender identity are not the same as when sexual orientation issues are present,” Pierce said.
A handful of local residents expressed their support of the proposed amendment, including West Valley High School Counselor Jeff Walters, Barbara McCarthy, and a transgendered female, Beverly Chmelik. All played the "safety" and "protection" cards.
Only four of the six serving board members were reported present (one position is vacant and is to be filled via appointment in March). Three of the board members explained their votes. “I support the change in the policy,” school board president Leslie Hajdukovich said. “I think we have to look out for all our students.” Hajdukovich occupies Seat E; term expires October 2011
“I think it’s important that every student feel safe,” board member Sue Hull said. “I hope folks will be sensitive to the needs of all students as we move forward with this policy. It’s very clear cut.” Sue Hull's support is particularly disappointing; she is the Republican who ran unsuccessfully for Rep. Scott Kawasaki's House seat in 2008. Hull occupies Seat C; term expires October 2010.
School board member Sean Rice said the issue of gender identity was relatively new to him but that he supported the amendment. “This is something I really stand for,” Rice said, “and hopefully every kid believes they have a place in our schools and in our community.” Rice occupies Seat F; term expires October 2011.
The next scheduled meeting of the school board is February 17th. The agenda hasn't been published yet; when it is, it will be available via this link. Thus it is unknown whether or not they'll have the second reading of these amendments. Those who are concerned about this issue can contact the school board by e-mail. Collectively: firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Leslie Hajdukovich: email@example.com
-- Wendy Dominique: firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Sue Hull: email@example.com
-- Kristina Brophy: firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Sean Rice: email@example.com
-- Howard Thies: firstname.lastname@example.org
Analysis: First, there is no need for a special protected "gender identity" class. Each discrimination provision already accounts for both sex and sexual orientation; thus there is already adequate protection. Second, gender and sex are interchangeable. Gender is determined solely by genitalia. Just because a guy "feels" like a girl doesn't make him a girl. This is not a problem from the waist down; it is a problem from the neck up.
This has also created too many problems elsewhere. Remember Lawrence King? His school indulged him, allowed him to wear women's clothes and lipstick. He got capped, and his murderer will probably end up spending most of his life in prison. Two wasted lives. A less severe problem occurred at Southern Utah University when a transgendered activist named Kourt Osborn attempted to get housing in a male dormitory. Osborn looks, dresses and even sounds like a male. But Osborn can't live in a male dormitory at Southern Utah University because, medically, he's still a woman. Osborn says he is undergoing hormone treatment but hasn't had sexual reassignment surgery. And that was a key factor in his recent denial for housing in the spring semester. What a bucket of worms!
In any event, there is only one acceptable outcome. Boys with male genitalia will ONLY use male facilities, girls with female genitalia will ONLY use female facilities. Case closed - no alternatives accepted.