BPTO urges approval of city student gender identity policy

Jul 19, 2016

The Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization is endorsing the city school district's draft proposal for a Student Gender Identity Policy. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley reports the organization has made minor recommended amendments, but is now seeking public support.

Students in a classroom.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

The Buffalo Public School District has drafted a gender ID policy for students in response to reports by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Justice Department and the New York State Education Department.  The reports offer districts guidance on how to accommodate transgender students.

"There will be some community meetings in regards to the policy before it is presented to the school board to get some more important on the policy," said Larry Scott, co-chair of the BPTO. "The District, at some point, will present a final policy to the board for approval."

The BPTO made two specific amendments. They are calling for the removal of the word 'consistently' in the proposed draft. 

"If a student is truly going to through this process where they are questioning their identity and decided to change their identity, we don't feel as if the term 'consistent' needs to be in there for that person to feel comfortable sharing the change and having to maybe make some changes and how they are accommodated in the school environment," said Scott.

The proposed policy does deal with the controversial issue of the use of restrooms and locker rooms. The district is proposing that transgender students be allowed to use a restroom or locker room that they identify with. 

Inside the restrooms at Bennett High School in Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

"What's important in there to is that it indicates in one spot that it will be done on a case by case basis, so depending on the area of concern or the need, it will depend on that case and hopefully good judgment will be applied," explained Scott.

The BPTO is also calling for the district to add a central office staffer or department to oversee the policy within the district to make sure it's implemented.

The BPTO has launched an on-line petition seeking members of the Buffalo community to sign it and urge the Board of Education to approve the Gender Identity Policy that would ensure dignity of transgender city school students. The organization is also calling on Mayor Byron Brown and the Buffalo Common Council to join in and endorse this policy.