CUSD Board Updates Non-discrimination Policy

CUSD Board Updates Non-discrimination Policy

CUSD’s 7 member board voted last Wednesday night to update its non-discrimination policy, giving LGBTQ+ students additional support and aligning district policy with AB1266, the law passed by legislators guaranteeing access to facilities based on one’s gender identity.

LGBTQ+ students, transgender students in particular, will be affected by a new policy in that they now get access to facilities like bathrooms of their choice and identified by teachers by a pronoun of their choosing.

According to Danielle Serio, English Teacher and Queer Alliance Club advisor, the policy “not only includes provisions to protect and allow transgendered students to use facilities that most closely align with their gender identities, but will also allow them to change their names and pronouns officially with the school district.”

The board was acting to update many policies. The non-discrimination policy, which has not been updated since the 1990s, was one of them.

Though the board drafted its own policy, it relied “heavily on the language of a model policy approved by the California School Boards Association,” according to Serio, who played a leading role lobbying for a policy update.

Both Serio and SJHHS sophomore Sid Piravi spoke to the board on Nov. 18 to advocate for the positive impacts this policy would have on the community (see video).

“This is a huge step forward for the community and will make many students feel safer and more protected by the school district,” said Piravi, who is transgender.

The AB 1266 law requires that a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.

It allows transgender students to use bathrooms and other facilities that they feel most comfortable with.

Jeniffer Smalley, principal of SJHHS says, “It’s our responsibility as a school and community to make sure all of our students seem supported, included, and valued.”

Transgender high school students face an innumerable amount of obstacles daily, from being not being able to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable in, to being referred to by the incorrect pronouns by their teachers and peers.

“I want to go to school and worry about english tests and band practice. I don’t want to go to school worrying about using the bathroom or being called the wrong pronoun by my teachers,” said Piravi (10)

Many SJHHS teachers and students were present at the board meeting to show support for Serio, Piravi, and the update of the policy.

Diane Tucker, English teacher at SJHHS came out in support of the new policy.

“It’s important that all students feel safe, welcome, and respected for who they are, and in our public school system, all students should feel safe, welcome, and respected for who they are,” said Tucker.

The response to the update of the policy was positive at the November 18th meeting, but it didn’t pass at this meeting due to grammatical issues and a rule that all policies must go through one additional draft before being approved by the board.

At the next key meeting, which took place on December 9th, there was overwhelming support for updating the policy and it resulted in a win for the LGBTQ+ community.

Piravi says, “I am so glad the policy has been passed and the updates have been made. Other transgender students and I can finally feel comfortable at school and I am so excited for the LGBTQ+ community.”