Las Vegas Sun

December 9, 2018

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CCSD board narrowly votes to enact polarizing gender diversity policy

The Clark County School Board voted 4-3 Thursday night to create a gender support plan for students with diverse gender identities and expressions.

Trustees Deanna Wright and Linda Cavazos said the deciding factor in their votes for the policy was administrators and principals asking for guidelines in dealing with transgender and gender-nonconforming youth.

The policy provides guidelines for how schools should move forward, including the use of names and pronouns of gender-diverse students, unofficial and official records, discipline, restroom and locker room access, overnight field trips and complaint procedures.

Nevada Senate Bill 225 requires school districts to provide a safe learning environment for students with diverse gender identities and expressions. The state policy is still being written.

“I don’t think we need to wait for the state to do the right thing,” Wright said.

The last speaker during the public comment portion of the meeting spoke about how her transgender child committed suicide, asking for a moment of silence in homage to her kid. That was the first time both sides remained quiet in an otherwise heated three-hour meeting.

The split decision mirrors past meetings and public forums, where standing-room-only crowds attended and residents waited hours to voice their opinions.

Those in favor said current policies do not protect gender-diverse students enough and that principals lack uniform standards to address the unique issues gender-diverse students face. Members of the LGBTQ community face high incidence of suicide, homelessness and exposure to violence.

“Freedom of religion is important, but that doesn’t [justify] taking away others’ rights,” Julie Bravo, a mother of a trans-child, said during public comment.

Those who are opposed to the policy cited religious beliefs and concerns over their children’s uneasiness in the presence of gender-diverse students. Some parents who oppose the policy warned of litigation or threatened to remove their children from the district.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit group, issued an open letter to the CCSD regarding the legality of the gender policy.

“I believe we will be sued if we do nothing and if we do something,” Edwards, who also voted in favor of the policy, said at the previous meeting. “We will be sued one way or another. This will play out in court.”