Roughly 100 parents, medical professionals and students listened while dozens spoke Oct. 3 at Horace Mann Middle School about new guidelines that allow Wausau School District students to use the bathroom of the gender they “consistently identify” with.
About 100 people, including students and former students who all were in favor of the guidelines, met Monday, Oct. 3 to discuss transgender rules for Wausau schools.
The school board spent another hour tweaking the guidelines, which have been in place since early September. The guidelines follow a May 13 order from the national Office of Civil Rights requiring schools that receive Title IX funding to allow transgender students equal access to bathrooms, locker rooms and showers of their preferred gender identity.
From a practical standpoint, Wausau schools are dealing with the handful of transgender students on a case-by-case basis, which includes private facilities they may use. The issue at hand is not a broad policy, but rather guidelines for handling what can be a personally sensitive situation for the individual.
All but one of the medical professionals argued against the guidelines. Vicky Baker, a general practice physician and parent of two young children in the district, speculated there “might be political activism in those guidelines” and disputed gender identification contrary to physical sexual organs. “As a physician with 15 years delivering babies, I have never assigned a gender at birth. It’s a biological fact.”
School Board President Lance Trollop says he’s been keeping tabs on the national debate. If the federal order is upheld, the Wausau School District stands to lose more than $8.5 million in federal funding if they do not comply. There so far haven’t been any incidents or trouble with the guidelines in the Wausau School District, Trollop says.
The majority of residents at Monday’s meeting spoke out against the new guidelines and several questioned the legitimacy of transgender identification altogether. But some, including an unnamed 14-year-old Wausau School District student, said parents are making a bigger deal out of it than the students are. The student said transgender students at her school use the bathroom of their choice and no one is alarmed by it. “You’re all speaking for my generation, and that’s not OK,” she said.
Two parents of transgender students, who spoke anonymously, said those speaking out against the guidelines don’t understand what being transgender is like. One said her daughter always felt and acted like a boy, and should be considered as such. It’s much more than a choice, she said. “This is a conversation of fear being placed on our children,” she said. “On my child.”
The district will continue to review and revise the guidelines as necessary, Trollop says, especially as the recommendations work through the courts.