Supporters, Opponents of FCPS’ policy on trans-gender, gender non-conforming students testified.
Frederick, Md (KM). The Frederick County Board of Education meeting room was packed Wednesday night as supporters and opponents showed up to testify about Policy 443, which is designed to prevent discrimination, harassment and bullying of trans-gender and gender non-conforming students.
The opponents were urged by an organization called Transparency in education to show up at the meeting. Chris Vigliotti, who supports the policy, criticized the group. “Transparency in Education wants the Board to force FCPS teachers to out trans-gender children to non-affirming families often with deadly results,” he said. “Their dangerous idea is built on a platform of thinly veiled bigotry, appeals to emotion and debunked pseudo-science.”
Katie Kuristan noted that the policy allows students to use whatever restroom or locker room based on their gender identity. “How do ensure that someone doesn’t take advantage of this policy, especially when a student can change their gender identity without informing their parents,” she said. “This is a murky policy at best, and a dangerous policy at worst.”
The policy does allow students to use the restroom or locker room based on their gender identity. But it also says students who do not feel comfortable using a gender-segregated facility “will be provided a safe and nonstigmatizing alternative.” That could include privacy curtains, private restrooms, office restrooms or have “a separate changing schedule,” the policy says.
Another supporter, Terry Smith Jones who is a chaplain, spoke in favor of the policy. “These young people need safe spaces to explore their personhood,” she said. “If they do not fee safe at home, they are in particular need of a sanctuary that you have chosen to provide.”
One of the complaints from opponents about this policy is that school personnel are not allowed to inform parents of a child’s sexual identity. Tom Neumark said he and other citizens have tried to talk to the School Board about modifying this policy, but have been told “no.,” He had his own “no’s” to present to the Board of Ed. “No, you shouldn’t teach disputed gender ideology as truth starting this August since it contradicts scientific evidence and many families’ values. No, you must not harm women’s sports and privacy. No, biological sex is not on a spectrum and you must not plant these seeds of confusion starting in kindergarten,” he said.
Reverend Kathleen Smith Jones Smith, a deacon with the Episcopal diocese of Maryland, thanked the School Board for this policy. “Thank you for supporting all of our young people. Thank you for teaching them to respect themselves and each other for who they are,” she said. “I wish all young people felt safe discussing gender identity with their parents, but the fact is they do not.”
The public hearing lasted one hour.
School Board President Sue Johnson said about 40 people signed up to testify, but not all of them spoke about Policy 443.
By Kevin McManus