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Columbus To Add Gender Identity To List Of Protected Classes Under Sex
Updated May 26, 2016 6:25 AM | Filed under: Education
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(COLUMBUS) - A southern Indiana school district has decided to add gender identity to an existing policy to allow students to use facilities designed for the sex with which they identify.

School board members voted unanimously Monday in Columbus to approve the change to Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation's equal opportunity policies to include gender identity in a list of protected classes under sex.

Nearly 100 parents and other residents spoke out against the change because they fear it will put female students at risk in restrooms and locker rooms, The (Columbus) Republic reported. They said they're worried that male students could choose to identify as females so they can enter the female restrooms and sexually harass female students.

In 2013, the school board voted to include "transgender status" as a protected class, so the recent addition of "gender identity" is a change that's meant to keep up with the current terminology, according to school board president Jill Shedd and superintendent John Quick.

"There is nothing that we will have to do differently," Shedd said.

Every year since the transgender protections were added, the school district has seen instances in which a high schooler of one biological gender asks to use the restroom designed for the other gender, and then the district follows a process that involves consultations with the student, parents, teachers and administrators to determine how to make both the student in question and other students as comfortable as possible, Quick said.

Quick said some students have already been allowed to use their bathroom of choice and there haven't been any reports of harassment as a result of them being permitted to do so.

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