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Lakota school district rejects gender identity policy

Lakota school district rejects gender identity policy (WKRC)

BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WKRC) - The heated debate over transgender student's rights came to a head Monday night in Butler County.

The Lakota School District rejected a policy that would have affected everything from bathrooms to sports teams.

The heated debate over transgender students’ rights came to a head Monday night in Butler County. The Lakota School District rejected a policy that would have affected everything from bathrooms.. to sports teams.

Raw emotion spilled out into a hallway after the Lakota School Board voted down a gender identity and expression policy.

Jill Patton is a parent who came to the meeting to support the proposed policy. She broke down in tears talking about what it would mean for children in the district. “To me, it’s not just about a one-percent making those individuals feel safe and secure. It’s teaching all of our 16-thousand students that every single one of us matters, period, and I’m really disappointed that some of our board members chose not to feel that all 16-thousand students would benefit from this,” she said.

The proposed policy would have allowed student to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity, meaning how they identify psychologically, not necessarily how they were biologically born. The same would have been true for gym class and school athletics. The proposal also had a heavy emphasis on bullying and harassment.

Linda Nix has a transgender son who attended Lakota West. She says the district was always helpful while her son was in attendance, but all of the logistics happened in closed-door meetings. There was no set policy. Nix said, “People are being strong. They’re standing up. They’re realizing they’re not alone and it’s okay to be their true selves. So it’s not going to go away. It’s only going to get worse. There’s a big need. Policy needs to be here because the staff doesn’t know what to do.”

Parents pointed to Leelah Alcorn, the transgender girl who killed herself a few years back. Parents say transgender children or students with non-traditional gender identity have an alarmingly high rate of suicide.

After the discussion, three board members voted against the policy. Some of them said the proposal was not legal and was ambiguous according to the district’s attorneys. Some parents did not want the policy either.

Resident Debbie Lang addressed the school board and said, “Do you know that there’s 15-thousand Lakota students, over 15-thousand and we’re talking about less than 1-percent of the population for this policy, okay. There are 611 school districts in the state of Ohio and if you institute this, it’s my belief that you’ll be the third, okay.”

Parents who want to see a policy put in place are not giving up their fight. They say next year there are some new board members and they will continue to push until a policy is put into place.

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