SCSD No. 2’s Discrimination Policy Revisions Receive Backlash

SCSD No. 2’s Discrimination Policy Revisions Receive Backlash

Photo courtesy of SCSD No. 2

GREEN RIVER — The first reading of revisions to Sweetwater County School District No. 2’s Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Procedures policy was met with backlash during the district board of trustees meeting Tuesday night.

Two residents spoke against the updates to the policies, expressing concerns with lack of local control over such policies, and the inclusion of wording regarding sexual orientation, gender identity and transgender status. The former policy states: “Sweetwater County School District No. 2 does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or any other applicable status protected by law, in admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, its educational programs or activities.”

The updated policy is changed to read as: “The district is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination in relation to race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, age, disability, and religion. This policy should prevail in all matters concerning staff, students, education programs and services and individuals with whom the school district does business.”

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The policy also states that in keeping up with the requirements of state and federal law, all federally funded educational programs, specifically including vocational opportunities, will be offered without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, age, disability or religion.

Concerns

The concerns discussed were directly related to the federal and state requirements regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, and transgender status.

“My concern is the section where it speaks about sexual orientation, gender identity, transgendered status, etcetera,” Marlene Brady said. “If a man feels like or identifies as a woman, is the club required to admit them as a member? Does that get them in the dressing rooms, in the showers, etcetera?”

Furthermore, she questioned whether the local school board has local control, or if it’s all under the Wyoming Education Association or Wyoming School Board Association’s control.

Jane Boren also expressed her concerns, stating that the people need to take their rights back from the federal government. She said she was born 1949, and has therefore seen a lot of social justice and human rights movements take place, but claimed that when she was in school they did not concern themselves with discrimination.

“I have lived through the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement, the hippie movement, the spread of marijuana and other drugs to common use, the gay liberation movement, etcetera. I went to a very diverse high school, in a building with 5,000 high school students, and 1,000 junior college students. A good portion of the students with whom I went to school with were Blacks and Hispanics, some were gay. At the time we did not have federal interference in our classroom, and we didn’t concern ourselves much with discrimination based on a laundry list of potential victim-hoods,” she said.

Drawing more upon her time in school, she said she was “colorblind” to the race of others, and that they did not discuss sex or sexual preference.

“We didn’t need policies such as the one being discussed tonight because we were taught to treat others with consideration and kindness, and to follow Christian principles such as the golden rule,” Boren said.

She went on to say that a policy such as this one is divisive and will demoralize, confuse, and victimize people. Additionally, she claimed that it is unconstitutional to “pay taxes to the federal government for the purpose of having that money redirected back to us in the states so that they can control education.” Boren said the word “education” is not in the United States Constitution, and the 10th Amendment states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

She believed that the policy was written by “an unelected bureaucrat” and will damage the school systems by encouraging parents to homeschool their kids or enroll them in public schools.

Importance of Federal Funding

Assistant Superintendent Jason Fuss said this policy has been in the works for nearly a year, and has been a collaboration between the district and the Wyoming School Board Association. Super 8, which consists of two school board members, two certified staff members, two support staff members, Superintendent Craig Barringer, and the chair of the Super 8 board, all contributed to the determination of these policy updates.

“Super 8 didn’t take any of these lightly,” Trustee Ashley Castillon said. “It was a discussion on very specific parts of them and we went back with some questions, too.”

While Boren said that the local school board needs to stand up to the federal government, Chairman Steve Core said that it is more complex than that as the district needs the federal funding.

“I totally agree with federal and state overreach,” Core said. “We feel that decisions that should be made about our kids, and our district, and our employees should be made by this board that was elected by the local people. But unfortunately, that is not the case, and federal dollars are extremely important to our kids in this district. We wouldn’t be able to function without the dollars.”

Core does not believe the district can afford to choose local control over the federal funding. Fuss said federal policies do change, and those changes do have to be responded to at the local level.

“This is a little bit of a moving target in our nation, and federal regulations and policies do change. These things have to be in response to those changes federally,” Fuss said.

The full policy can be viewed below. The school board unanimously approved the first reading, and there will be a second reading during the May 14 meeting.