Anti-Discrimination Draft Concerns Some in Sussex County - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Anti-Discrimination Draft Concerns Some in Sussex County

Posted: 10/18/2017 16:58:00 -04:00 Updated:
(Photo: MGN) (Photo: MGN)

SUSSEX COUNTY, Del. - Months after Governor Carney issued a memorandum asking the Department of Education to create a model anti-discrimination policy for the state, a draft is available for public comment. 

Once finalized, the regulations will be in place for all school districts and charter school to adopt or tailor based on their individual needs. Among other things, the draft suggests schools let students join sports teams based on gender identity, and that students may go by "preferred names" without necessarily getting parental consent.

The draft also has a paragraph on bathroom and locker room access, stating: "School Districts and Charter Schools shall work with students and families on providing access to locker rooms and bathrooms that correspond to students’ gender identity or expression."

Some advocates like Salvatore Seeley with CAMP Rehoboth say these regulations would protect students' self esteem.

"Students have lots of issues already and when we add issues of gender or sexual orientation on that opens a whole other can of worms," he says." 

Seeley says a model policy would create an even playing field for everyone involved in anti-discrimination issues at schools.

"It gives students and it gives teachers and especially administrators guidelines on what to do and what not to do, what to expect and what not to expect," he says. "When you have teachers or administrators who don't necessarily support or even discriminate themselves against trans students [...] now we have a living document that says this is acceptable and this is not acceptable."

Representative Ruth Briggs King is one lawmaker expressing concern with the draft regulations. She says the public meetings on the regulations held last month took place when many parents were busy. She says that the draft regulations include language that's not yet in Delaware law, so any changes are best handled legislatively.

"[A] couple of those phrases in law specifically referring to transgender and identity is not in our education law and I don't think we should try and run around the law process, the legislative process for something that's very important to many people." 

King says the proposed policies could interfere with parent's choices to educate their children on issues regarding sexuality and gender identity. 

"Sometimes it's causing parents to start conversations perhaps much too early...we wait certain ages to talk about certain things because they don't understand. We're pushing that down and perhaps we are moving some things too quickly," she says. "Ultimately here I think it comes back to that parent knowing their child and making the best decision for that child."

According to a presentation given at public meetings on the regulations, the draft is set to be finalized in January of 2018. Once in place, the current draft says school districts must adopt their own anti-discrimination policies within 90 days.

Public comment on the draft is still being accepted via an online survey here. 

 

 

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