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California School Board Delays Discussion On Changing LGBTQ-Specific Bullying Policy

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Paso Robles school board in the central valley of California has delayed discussions over amending its bullying policies and removing certain specific protective features for LGBTQ students.

An original anti-bullying policy was created in 2020 and reportedly describes the ways in which the district deals with discrimination, bullying, and harassment in order to follow federal and state laws. It also provides clarity on what students and staff are not allowed to do.

According to The Tribune, the policy generally bans “unlawful discrimination targeting a student, including discriminatory harassment, intimidation, or bullying, based on the student’s actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, nationality, national origin, immigration status, ethnic group identification, ethnicity, age, religion, marital status, pregnancy, parental status, physical or mental disability, medical condition, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, or any other legally protected status or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.”

“We are working with counsel to make sure our policies and regulations accurately reflect state mandates to protect all students including those in all protected classes, including LGBTQ,” district Superintendent Curt Dubost told the San Luis Obispo Tribune over text message. “They (LGBTQ) all still come under anti-discrimination for all, just not listed separately.”

The original policy also had a specific area for “issues unique to intersex, nonbinary, transgender and gender non-conforming students.” It also reportedly explained definitions for “gender identity,” “gender expression,” “intersex,” “nonbinary,” “transgender” and “gender non-conforming” students.

The school board was scheduled to consider a new version this week that cut almost that whole portion. The policy would instead be more widespread, but the decision was tabled after members of the community expressed disapproval of the potential move.

“I think this is an issue that has to simmer a little while in the community,” Board President Chris Arend said at the gathering.

The new version would have kept in place the ability for students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their chosen gender identity, but it got rid of other specific defenses. It would also get rid of a rule that made district employees use “a name and the pronoun(s) consistent with the student’s gender identity, without the necessity of a court order or a change to the student’s official district record,” at the request of the student.

It would also delete a portion that said: “A student has the right to dress in a manner consistent with the student’s gender identity, subject to any dress code adopted on a school site.”

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