Boulder Valley schools prodded to keep trying on transgender rights

Even a very welcoming school district can use a little push to establish across-the-board supportive policies for transgender students, says Kate McKenzie, a Boulder Valley School District parent.

McKenzie said she thought the message her kids were getting from the school they attend seemed uneven. So she filed a complaint with a federal civil rights office, reports the Daily Camera.

The district isn’t “adequately protecting the rights and integrity of its gender fluid and transgender children,” McKenzie told the paper.

Her feeling, according to the Camera, is that trans kids aren’t encouraged equally to share their everyday experience of gender the way straight kids are encouraged.

McKenzie implied that it’s not a matter of conscious discriminatory practice. She said “a little bit of pressure” toward greater awareness among staff and faculty even of the transgender policy in place since 2012 would go a long way.

“I don’t want to punish the district,” she said.

School officials, working with the LGBTQ Boulder Valley Safe Schools Coalition, are planning to institute more system-wide training beginning this fall.

Boulder district students already are not made to jump over what can be high bureaucratic hurdles to bring their school data in line with their lived identity. As the Camera reported, students can change their name and gender in the district files even if they have yet to change those things officially with the state. Students can also use whichever bathrooms they feel is most appropriate. That’s a big deal.

Transgender young people can be embarrassed and traumatized by being sent to the “wrong” bathroom.

In testimony this spring on state legislation that would have made it easier for transgender Coloradans to update their birth certificates, a mom told a Senate committee about watching her son, Enrico, who has always identified as a boy even though he was born with female genitalia, recoil in humiliation at being sent to the girl’s bathroom every day when he started attending school. He began wetting his pants at age five, she explained. But those problems ended and Enrico’s attitude toward school completely changed after she talked with the school, she said, and staffers accepted Enrico as a boy.

But the Capitol is home still to much anxiety and fear on transgender issues.

The birth certificate bill was killed by Republican majority committee members. The single opponent who testified against it said male athletes would be encouraged to pretend to be girls in order to win scholarships.

And earlier in the session, Littleton Republican Rep. Kim Ransom introduced a bill to “protect physical privacy in sex-segregated locker rooms.”

“If a group of high school boys wants to storm the girls locker room during shower time after gym class, there is nothing the principal can do to stop them if they say the right words,” explained Ransom, as Westword reported.

Fairview High School Principal Don Strensrud, who testified against the bill, took a jaundiced view of the scenario she drew.

“The football team all saying, ‘My gosh, we’re all transgendered. We want to go into the girls locker room….’ This is my fourteenth year at high school level — that has never happened.”

Photo via Cuito Cuanavale.