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State Board of Education discusses gender identity guidance document

By Ashtyn Asay - Daily Herald | Jan 26, 2022

Eli Lucero, The Herald Journal via AP

In this Wednesday, April 14, 2021, file photo, members of the Olsen and Thorell family hold pride flags during a rally in support of LGBTQ students at Ridgeline High School in Millville. Students and school district officials in Utah are outraged after a high school student ripped down a pride flag to the cheers of other students during diversity week. A rally was held the following day in response to show support for the LGBTQ community.

The Utah State Board of Education Standards and Assessment Committee held a special meeting Wednesday to discuss the board’s gender identity guidance document.

This document is meant to serve as a tool for Utah school faculty as they navigate issues regarding students’ gender identity, and it touches on utilizing students’ preferred names and pronouns, defines what appropriate dress and grooming standards are, and sets rules regarding clubs, overnight trips and athletics.

The meeting began at 6 p.m. and was held virtually. The discussion centered on the current political climate surrounding gender identity, the appropriate language to use within the document, whether legal names or preferred names should be used in student records, and which students should use each gendered bathroom.

Committee members expressed concern over the changing political climate and speculated whether guidance regarding gender identity would need to continually change along with the political climate.

“It seems like the current administration, through executive order and otherwise, are interested in pursuing this differently than the previous administration,” Jennie Earl, a member of the committee said. “I guess my point is that 2014 we saw something different, 2018 we saw something different … and now we’re seeing something different again so there’s this continual fluctuation.”

Johnny Morris, Special to the Daily Herald

Genderbands hosts the first Utah Transgender Pride on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, at Lions Park in Provo.

Within the document, it states that children are allowed to use whichever bathroom corresponds with their consistently asserted gender. However, children are not allowed to use the bathroom opposite of their asserted gender.

“Could a boy who feels uncomfortable using the boy’s bathroom because it’s consistently held that he is feeling uncomfortable and unsafe there, can he use a girl’s bathroom?” Earl said.

Scott Hansen, chair of the committee, clarified that a cisgender boy using the girl’s bathroom, even out of preference, would go against the guidelines outlined in the gender identity guidance document. In situations similar to this, a child would be given other accommodations per the guidelines.

“Because he doesn’t consistently assert a gender that is different from his biological sex,” Hansen said. “He could ask for an accommodation to use another restroom, a single-stall restroom.”

The document states that a student’s school record should contain both their legal name and biological sex, and any requested change to a student’s record must be documented. In order for transgender students to change the name in school records, they or their parents must provide a court order or birth certificate.

The meeting continued past the Daily Herald’s print deadline before a decision was made.

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