Pascack Valley school board OKs transgender policy
The Pascack Valley school board voted 6-1 on Monday to approve a policy allowing transgender students to use facilities that conform to their gender identities — rather than their sexes at birth.
The policy would allow transgender students at the district's two high schools, Pascack Valley and Pascack Hills, to "have access to the restroom and locker room that corresponds to their gender identity consistently asserted at school" and to be addressed by the name and pronoun that goes along with their gender identity. They would also be allowed to dress in school accordingly.
About 100 people attended Monday night's meeting, which drew passionate comments from people for and against the policy, according to the Bergen Record. Greg Quinlan, who said he represented a group called Garden State Families, was asked to leave after he made personal attacks against board President Jeffrey Steinfeld, according to the newspaper.
Senior Andrea Kent also spoke in favor of the measure, according to the newspaper. “I tried putting myself in their shoes, and I encourage you to do the same,” she said from the podium."
Board member Joseph Blundo cast the lone vote against the policy. “I think you are putting an underrepresented group, that is not speaking out tonight, in an awkward position," Blundo said, according to the Record.
The debate in many ways echoed the one held throughout the day Monday on New Jersey 101.5's talk shows, during which some callers said concerned parents need to get with the times — and others said accommodations need to be made for people who aren't comfortable changing or using restrooms with people of the same biological sex.
"It’s about the kids," Emily, a transgender woman — which is to say a person born of the male sex but identifying as female — told Eric Scott Monday. "If the kids feel comfortable with sharing their bathroom with someone who is psychologically necessary that they do these things, I really don’t see what the problem is.”
Alison from Pennsylvania told Jeff Deminski and Bill Doyle she was worried not just about the other students in facilities, but transgender students themselves — saying a transgender boy (born of the female sex) could be at risk with a roomful of male teenagers.
“If I have a child who is in a bathroom with a male or a female or a locker room with a male or a female and it’s the opposite sex of what they are, why should the 98 percent of children who are not confused feel uncomfortable because they have that situation?” she asked D&D.
She continued: “On top of that, we’re talking about boys who believe they are female going into a female locker room. But what if they have a female child who thinks that they are a male child and they go into the male locker room. We’re worried what those other male students will do to that female child. You’re putting children definitely in a dangerous situation.”
Under the approved policy, transgender students would be able to participate in physical education that conform to their gender identities but participation in competitive athletics and contact sports would be determined on a case-by-case basis based on the rules of the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA).