Several schools deal with student gender issues

Districts vary in how students are accommodated.

Five of the 11 local school districts interviewed by the Dayton Daily News this week said they have had at least one student who identified as transgender or gender neutral.

In each of those five districts, school officials said it was either one student or very few, and the districts varied on how they accommodated those students.

“We can’t legally tell a student that he or she can’t use the restroom of choice while at school,” said Kettering City Schools spokeswoman Kari Basson. “That said, our procedure is to sit down on a case-by-case basis with the student (and parent, if appropriate) and discuss what he or she is comfortable with.”

In Troy, a student who previously attended district schools as a female has declared he is a male this year. The school approved his use of the boys’ restrooms, leading to some community backlash.

Kettering, Trotwood-Madison, Centerville and Springfield school officials all said their transgender students used a clinic or staff restroom.

“There is no standard procedure at this point,” said Trotwood Superintendent Kevin Bell. “The individual last year used a clinic restroom as needed based on personal preference.”

Eight of the 11 districts interviewed said they have board policies that specifically mention transgendered students in their nondiscrimination or anti-harassment policies. The other districts — Troy, Dayton and Springfield — have nondiscrimination policies, but don’t mention transgender students among their protected classes.

“As big and diverse as we are, we run into a wide variety of student and family situations,” Springfield City Schools Superintendent Bob Hill said. “We do our best to accommodate those situations, so this is nothing really new to us.”

Hill said the gender identity/restroom issue does require some planning when it comes to field trips or summer programs.

The issue is not just a local one, as more than 100 students walked out of a Missouri high school on Monday because a 17-year-old transgender girl was changing in the girls’ locker room. The transgender girl, Lila Perry, said to St. Louis TV station KTVI that it was like white students being uncomfortable sharing a bathroom with a black person decades earlier.

School officials in Sidney, Dayton, West Carrollton, Vandalia Butler and Urbana said they were not aware of any students telling school staff that they identify as transgender.

Springboro Superintendent Todd Petrey declined to answer whether any students had reported that status.

“If a student has a medical diagnosis and/or identification protected by Title IX, we will address the needs of the student,” Petrey said. Dayton Public Schools provided the exact same quote.

State school board member A.J. Wagner said the issue has not come before the board in recent months.

“It’s probably not a (topic) that there would necessarily be a statewide policy for,” Wagner said. “These are the kind of things that we generally leave to local school boards to work out for themselves.”

Urbana Superintendent Charles Thiel said in the past, the district has provided a private space for students who “had significant issues with using the locker room.”

“This is an issue we will be exploring as we design our new school buildings,” he said.

Staff writer Natalie Jovonovich contributed to this story.

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