School board committee discusses transgender and gender identity guidelines

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah State Board of Education is in the process of finalizing guidelines that Utah schools can follow regarding gender identity issues.

Council members worked late into the night to approve the policy document which determines verbiage on everything from sports, clubs and dress code to more contentious issues, such as facilities and pronouns.

The next step is to give the public the opportunity to read it, study it and speak up if they have any concerns.

Board members began working on the guidance document — which is neither law nor policy, but aims to give educators a kind of playbook when new issues arise — on Wednesday evening and the had approved at 1 a.m. Thursday.

“It was kind of the last big push before it went into a public comment period,” said Mark Peterson, director of public relations for the Utah State Board of Education.

Their mission began four months ago. They aimed to provide guidance to schools on how to tackle gender identity issues – including dress codes, toilet use and pronouns.

From bathrooms to sports, Utah educators create guidelines for transgender students

“The bottom line though is that all students are safe and comfortable at school. That’s the end goal,” Peterson said.

Jer Bates, director of communications for the Ogden School District, said they take these issues seriously.

“Even though there is no official policy in place at this time, we still believe we can do the right thing for our students.”

Once the board has approved the guidelines, they are no longer binding. It is up to each school to use them as a guide. Bates didn’t read any details but welcomes any additional support.

“What’s important to us is that we always respect the dignity and expression and where necessary the privacy of students working on these kinds of issues,” he said. .

The guidance document will be released Thursday afternoon and Utahns can submit comments until Feb. 7. The committee will meet on February 23 to review all comments and make changes.

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