Bathroom use concerns and district response

By Jef Rietsma

Vicksburg Community Schools officials responded to several parents concerned about transgender students and the bathrooms they might opt to use at school.

Several parents have addressed the board intermittently over the past 18 months about the issue. Four parents addressed the board during its Aug. 14 meeting, prompting a response from board president Skip Knowles.

Knowles shared a letter prepared by the district’s attorney.

“The district’s policies prohibit discrimination, bullying or harassment on the basis of sex, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition to following its policies, it is equally important that the district complies with federal, state and local laws, and guidance in legal precedent related to unlawful discrimination, bullying and harassment,” Knowles read. “State and federal law and guidance, and current binding case law in Michigan require public schools to allow all students – including transgender students – to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity or to use single-user restrooms, whichever the student chooses.”
Knowles continued.

“Regardless of gender identity, Vicksburg Community Schools expects any individual using a restroom will respect the privacy of everyone else using the restroom and will conduct themselves in an appropriate manner,” he said. “If not, the student will be held accountable according to Vicksburg Community Schools discipline policy.”

In closing, Knowles said the district is obligated to create a safe and welcoming school climate, supervise it appropriately and clearly articulate expectations about acceptable behaviors.

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