• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Policy requested to protect transgender students

A letter asking the Woodford County Board of Education to develop a policy to protect transgender students was given to board members and schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins on Monday night. Rory Barron, a 2011 graduate of Woodford County High School, presented the letter, which was signed by Barron and five other alumni of the school system. It stated that "the district currently lacks a specific and comprehensive policy to guarantee basic rights and protections for transgender students." A policy "is critical for preventing discrimination and ensuring that that all Woodford students have access to a safe and productive learning environment," the letter stated. With no state or federal protections of transgender students, the letter continued, "it falls to individual school districts to ensure a safe and equal education for their transgender students." The board was also asked to update the school district's nondiscrimination and anti-harassment statements to include gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation; and commit to faculty and staff training in gender-inclusive language and classroom practices. Proposed protections include a policy that ensures students are allowed to use school facilities (bathrooms and locker rooms) that match their gender identity; and are allowed to participate in any sex-segregated activity (sports) with the group that matches their gender identity. Also, the letter asked Woodford County Public Schools to commit to building gender-neutral restrooms on each floor of newly constructed school buildings. Board members thanked Barron for bringing the concerns to their attention. "It was important and good for us to hear (the concerns outlined in your letter)," board Vice Chair Debby Edelen said. Hearing officer The board unanimously approved Chief Operating Officer Amy Smith as hearing officer to document public comments made during a district facilities plan public forum scheduled on Monday, April 17, at 6:45 p.m. in the board office at 330 Pisgah Pike. The Local Planning Committee was scheduled to conduct its third public hearing on an updated facilities plan at WCHS on Tuesday, March 28. And the Board of Education has scheduled a special meeting on Wednesday, March 29, to approve a district facilities plan. Kay praised Board Chair Ambrose Wilson IV thanked state Rep. James Kay for his comments on the floor of the House during this year's legislative session. "On numerous occasions (he) defended public education and most specifically complimented the work that goes on every day in the Woodford County educational system," Wilson said. "...I really, really appreciated his hard work and dedication. He did a wonderful job trying to help us" when legislation allowing charter schools in Kentucky was being discussed by lawmakers. Financial report Woodford County schools began February with a total cash balance of $14.616 million and ended the month with $14.811 million, according to Smith's financial report. The school district ended February with $389,393.28 in its building fund, $326,010.35 in its construction fund and $186,830.21 in its capital outlay fund.

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