One Equal World

Majority of Idaho Schools Fail to Protect LGBT Students

Posted on: October 15, 2015

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

Although the Idaho School Board Association adopted new guidelines this year (for the first time) aimed to prevent discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, almost all public school districts in the state have simply ignored them. Only a handful of public schools have rejected the proposed guidelines.

Of the 115 public school districts in the area, only the Teton School District in eastern Idaho has adopted the recommendations. “Many more have not even broached the issue while going through their annual policy updates,” the Associated Press reports.

The ISBA submits policy suggestions to school districts four times annually. Issued in July, the guidelines (which focus particularly on transgender students’ needs) call for dress codes to remain gender-neutral, equal treatment of same-sex couples, and necessary steps to meet the needs of students, offering them separate restrooms and changing facilities (but not requiring that they use them). The school board highly encourages principals to meet with transgender students to discuss how to best accommodate them. Elementary teachers should also check with school administration first before speaking with a student’s parents on potential gender transition. In addition, students can’t be denied to partake in overnight trips because of their transgender status.

According to the proposed guidelines, failure to abide by the policies would result in disciplinary action by the board.

“Our executive board looked at what was going on across the nation and decided it was time to send out some model policy,” said ISBA spokeswoman Jess Harrison. “These are a guideline.”

Of the schools that haven’t adopted the new policies, 14 have more general statements and concerns about anti-LGBT discrimination. 33 schools address bullying and harassment of LGBT students, but not other types of discrimination.

“We have some questions that we wanted clarified,” said Eric Anderson, a superintendent of the Hagerman School District. “This is the first time we’ve seen anything like this.”

There’s no deadline on when school boards can revise their policies, but determining how many schools in the future will adopt these new gender identity policies is currently unknown.

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