Packed Audience

This screenshot of the video stream of Monday night's meeting of the Vermillion School Board, held in the Vermillion City Hall meeting chamber, shows a packed audience. Board members are seated at the curved table in the foreground.

Following nearly 90 minutes of hearing public input and lengthy discussion among themselves, members of the Vermillion School Board gave second reading and final approval Monday night to its “Gender Equity and Access” policy.

The new guideline is designed to help the Vermillion School District protect the civil rights of transgender students and addresses the issue of gender identity in school accommodations, including restrooms.

Board members voted on a motion that omitted one part of the original policy that deals with overnight accommodations for transgender students. That portion of the policy reads: “Overnight Accommodations: Students shall be assigned to rooms based on their consistently asserted gender identity, accommodating additional privacy needs as requested.”

Further discussion regarding overnight accommodations, along with locker room and shower use portions of the policy are also planned sometime in the future.

“We’re leaving out the section on overnight accommodations to be reconsidered with the locker room and shower discussion at a later date,” school board member Shane Nordyke said, “once we have figured out the logistics of that.”

The vote on the policy’s second reading was similar to that of last Tuesday, Nov. 2, when it was heard on its first reading. Board members Rachel Olson and Jim Peterson voted against the policy; Nordyke, Carol Voss-Ward and Doug Peterson, school board president, voted in favor of it.

Many people in the audience, who stayed at the meeting for 90 minutes of input and discussion, celebrated with cheers and loud applause when the policy received its third aye vote which puts it into effect.

“The policy has been passed with those understandings in our procedure and we revisit the overnight accommodations, so at this time, there are no overnight accommodation expectations,” Doug Peterson said.

“Question then would be the informing of parents as to when this would start. When would you like us to communicate this?” Superintendent Damon Alvey asked.

“Tomorrow,” Olson said.

Look for a more thorough report later at and in this week’s edition of the Vermillion Plain Talk.

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