More debate over proposed gender-identity policy

Sep 15, 2016

The debate continues over a proposed gender-identity policy for the Buffalo Public School District.  Once again Wednesday night about 30-speakers lined at the school board meeting to speak both for and against the gender-identity policy.  Much of the debate last night centered on the treatment of transgender city school students.

Buffalo Board of Education meeting Wednesday night.
Credit WBFO News photo by Mike Desmond

“So far, a lot of the oppositions to the policy have been so variantly transphobic, that those of that care about trans student feel that they have no choice but to support the policy without reservations,” said Adrienne Hill, local LGBTQ advocate.

Hill said right now she doesn't support the full proposed policy. She believes it fails to include help for teachers and school staff in enforcing the policy and some students feel like they've been doing the educating on the issue.

“There is a transgender student from City Honors who said that he was one of three trans students in his entire school and that it fell to him and his classmates to educate the school on how to accommodate trans people. It’s not a high schooler’s job to teach his school how to accommodate him,” said Hill.

This past spring the Obama administration called on school districts to allow transgender students to use a facility that matched the gender they identify with. Districts were told if they don't comply, they could risk having federal funding withheld, but then a federal judge in Texas shot down the directive.

City Honors 9th grader Julian Cercone also spoke at Wednesday evenings meeting. Cercone told the school board he fully supports a transgender student using the rest room. 

Inside the bathroom at Bennett.
Credit WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

“My parents asked me if I’d be interested in coming here tonight. I told them I was more nervous talking to you than I’d ever be in a bathroom with a member of the LGBT community. I’ve learned about civil rights many times over the past years that I’ve spent in middle school, and to be honest, it makes absolutely no sense that we are still debating these topics today,” Cercone stated.

At the end of the public comments, Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash said they’re working to 'evolve’ and ‘refine' the draft policy before any final vote is taken. Cash stressed that the safety of all students is very important.

“That’s really what it’s all about is making sure that all of our students feel safe in school and among their peers,” Cash commented. 

The policy will be reviewed by school board members next Wednesday at the Executive Affairs committee meeting,”

“So when it comes before the board next week, in its first formal way, in the Executive Affairs Committee, you will see that there has been movement—some may not call it progress but progress on making sure that we are responsive to all that we’ve been hearing from in the community,” Cash remarked. 

There is no word on when the school board will conduct a final vote on the policy.