Middleton-Cross Plains Schools weigh change to non-discriminatio - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Middleton-Cross Plains Schools weigh change to non-discrimination policy

Posted: Updated: Jun 23, 2014 05:00 PM

MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School Board discussed proposed changes to the district's non-discrimination policy Monday night before ultimately deciding to move forward with the alterations.

The proposal to add wording to the policy specifying that discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender expression is prohibited could be voted on at the July 14 school board meeting. The agenda for July will be finalized Tuesday. A spokesperson for the district said if the policy change fails to make the July agenda it will likely be voted on in August.

The wording change is targeted towards transgender students -- or students who identify with a gender other than the one they were born with.

Discussion on changing the policy began in April after a group of students gave a presentation before the school board arguing for the change. The students said transgender students in the district would feel more comfortable if the policy was altered.

According to a packet distributed to school board members, gender identity is defined as "one's innermost concept of self as male or female or both or neither -- how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves."

The packet defines gender expression as "the ways in which people externally communicate their gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, haircut, voice and other forms of presentation."

Superintendent Don Johnson said the district is already working to accommodate transgender students through the installation of more, gender neutral bathrooms. He said recent remodeling at one school also included private changing rooms in the gym locker rooms.

"Our hope would be we can do this in a way that protects these students but also doesn't impinge upon other students and make them feel uncomfortable," Johnson said.

School board members Anne Bauer and Ellen Lindgren, who called into the meeting by phone, also advocated for the addition of "sensitivity tyrannizing" for MCPAS students and staff.

"Creating environment, working on our environment, because we did hear from some students that they don't feel like we're providing for them," Bauer said. "So instead of only making the policy, we do have to do some work on increasing acceptance."



MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- The Middleton-Cross Plains School Board is scheduled to consider changes to the district's non-discrimination policy Monday night.

The district's current statement on non-discrimination reads:

It is the policy of the public schools that no person may be denied admission to any public school in the District, or be denied participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be discriminated against in any curricular, co-curricular, pupil service, recreational or other program or activity because of the person's sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, creed, pregnancy, marital or parental status, sexual orientation, or physical, mental, emotional or learning disability or handicap as required by s. 118.13 Wis. Stats. This policy also prohibits discrimination as defined by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (sex), Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (race and national origin) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Monday, school board members will discuss adding gender identity and expression to the list of specified characteristics in the policy. The discussion follows a school board meeting in April in which  several high school students went before the board to advocate for the change.
The change would primarily impact transgender students - or students who identify and/or express a gender other than the one they were biologically born with.

The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District does currently provide administrators with a checklist regarding ways to make transgender students feel more comfortable at school.

The list includes guidelines such as referring to the students using their preferred names and pronouns, allowing students to use a restroom that fits their gender identities, keeping student gender identities private, and allowing students to participate on sports teams consistent with their gender identities.

The checklist also calls for district administrators to keep an eye out for bullying with respect to transgender students. It reads "transgender and gender non-conforming students are disproportionately targeted for teasing, bullying, harassment and violence."

A spokesperson for the district said the school board is scheduled to debate the change Monday but will not vote tonight. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the district administrative center, 7106 South Avenue in Middleton.

27 News will be at Monday's school board meeting and bring you some of the discussion coming up at 10 p.m.

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