Wilmington City School District formally commits to addressing gender identity

By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenber[email protected]

WILMINGTON — The Wilmington school district made a formal commitment Friday to address gender identity.

Earlier in the school year, a parent of a transgender athlete submitted a complaint alleging harassment, and a subsequent school investigation found merit in two of the mother’s complaints.

As the News Journal reported in February, one of the findings relates that WHS head wrestling coach Kelly Tolliver on Nov. 2, 2017 told the transgender athlete, who was on the wrestling team, he could not be in the locker room “because you are a girl.” In an investigative report compiled by the school district’s compliance officers, they noted school employees are prohibited from making offensive comments to a student based upon the student’s gender identity.

On Friday the school board took formal action to adopt an agenda item stating “there is commitment on the part of the parties and the Board to address gender-based harassment issues,” and to “develop additional policies and/or procedures to address and clarify the manner in which the Board [school district] can further support the needs of all students.”

Prior to the end of the school year, there will be staff meetings where there will be video training directed specifically to the protected class of transgenders, Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Superintendent Mindy McCarty-Stewart said Friday. Then, students and support personnel will also learn about supporting transgender students as part of ongoing efforts by the district, she said.

In addition, other districts’ board policies will be reviewed, including “any administrative guidelines in terms of putting some specific language, and to supporting transgender, understanding how to best support transgender students,” said McCarty-Stewart.

The making of additional polices or procedures will be in partnership with parents and students, according to a press release provided at Friday’s special board meeting.

Over the winter, two representatives from the Greater Cincinnati chapter of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) met with a group of WCS stakeholders, and provided some training, information, understanding, plus materials and resources related to supporting transgender students in schools. The GLSEN website states the organization’s mission is to create safe and affirming schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

The voice mailbox of the transgender student’s mother was full Friday when the News Journal sought comment.

The WCS press release stated, “We want to be clear — gender discrimination, including harassment and/or discrimination directed toward transgender students is strictly prohibited. The Board will take action to protect any of our students who are facing discrimination based upon gender or membership in other protected classes, including race, religion, disability or ancestry.”

As previously reported, the wrestling coach has apologized, and was to get a written directive concerning how he is required to address gender identity concerns with students, and also receive a copy of the board’s anti-harassment policy and acknowledge he understands and appreciates its provisions.

The school district has created a new multi-purpose locker room.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

By Gary Huffenberger

[email protected]