Board Of Ed Continues Work On Gender Identity Policy

This follows an executive order issued by President Trump.


Frederick, Md (KM). A policy to address gender identity issues in Frederick County public schools  is continuing. The Board of Education earlier this month said the policy would make local schools more welcoming places for everyone.

“Gender identity is a protected class in our non-discrimination statement in the state of Maryland and also in our school system,” says Liz Barrett, Vice President of the Board of Education, who was a guest on “Frederick’s Forum” on Saturday on WFMD.

But, she said, a policy is needed following an executive order issued by President Trump which rescinds  an earlier letter from the US Department of Education, and guidance from the  Obama Administration urging schools to accommodate transgender students when it comes to use of bathrooms and locker rooms. It bases its arguments on Title IX, a federal law which prohibits discrimination in schools.

Barrett says the President’s executive order caused some confusion. “Plus this Gavin Grimm case that got up to the Supreme Court, and then got remanded. It’s created kind of a void of clarity. And so it became a really good time for our board to step in,” she said.

Gavin Grimm is a transgender student from Gloucester County, Virginia, who identifies as a male and wanted to use the boys’ bathroom. The principal at his school gave him permission to use the boys’ room, but the Gloucester County Board of Education adopted a policy requiring students use the restrooms based on their gender at birth. Grimm sued and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in his favor. The School Board  appealed.

The US Supreme Court said it would not hear the case, and wiped out the a lower ruling in favor of Grimm.

During the program, a transgender student named “James” called in. He’s a 17-year-old male student at Governor Thomas Johnson High. “James” came out as transgender while attending middle school in West Virginia. He said he was not treated very well there. “When I transferred to high school in Frederick County, my school was a little more understanding because they had trans students before. And really it comes back to setting the consistency because in my middle school, I had been in the first out trans student in the district. Whereas in Frederick County, there had been a few before me,” he said.

He said  conditions are better in Frederick County public schools, but  improvement is needed. “While my teachers are sympathetic to me, they don’t always know how to respond. So we’re in this very weird area where my teachers are worried about my safety, but they’re also worried what they say because a lot of times, they don’t want to talk to the students, yeah,” “James”  said.

During a public hearing earlier this month, several students and their parents said teachers and other staff needed to be trained on how to deal with transgender students.

Barrett said there has been opposition expressed to allowing students using restrooms that don’t correspond to their gender on their birth certificates. “They’re concerned about things primarily to do with conversations of ‘whose in the locker room? whose in the bathroom,'” she said.

The Board of Education did not indicate when this draft policy would be ready to presented to the public for comment.


By Kevin McManus