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Gender identity guidance for Utah schools

Nov 16, 2021, 4:47 PM
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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Board of Education’s (USBE) Standards and Assessment committee met Monday evening to discuss an in-the-works gender identity “guidance document.”

The guidance document is meant to help schools, parents, and educators with topics around transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students. 

KSL NewsRadio’s Jason Tulin reported on the meeting that went well into the night of Nov. 15.

What is gender identity?

Tulin referred to the Washington State University Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center. The Resource Center defined gender identity:

One’s internal sense of being a man, woman, neither of these, both, or other gender(s).

The center also defined gender expression:

External manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through clothing, haircut, voice, or body characteristics.

The committee is working on a guide for schools on topics relating to gender identity and gender expression. 

The purpose of the guidance document

The committee meeting and guidance document creation are a response to growing questions about common issues relating to gender and gender identity in Utah schools. 

Tulin explained the guidance is not intended to lay out a strict set of rules. But instead offer a standard set of guidelines to support gender-diverse students and the school community. 

The Board of Education committee is especially focused on providing guidance for topics of privacy, records and confidentiality, overnight school trips, bathrooms, dress codes, and pronouns. 

With all of the topics to cover, KSL TV’s Debbie Worthen reported by 9:15 the committee had only moved through half of the proposed subjects, and list continued to grow. 

The guidance follows other conversations led by the USBE. In early September, USBE held a virtual meeting open to public comment about gender identity. The meeting’s participants discussed students’ chosen pronouns, bullying by peers for gender identity and expression, and the relationship between transgendernon-binary, and gender-diverse students and their parents. 

A draft document was published called “Understanding Gender Identity to Better Support Students.”

What next?

Once the guidance document is finished, the State Board of Education will vote to either veto or adopt the guidance, said Tulin. The guidance will serve as a resource provided by the USBE to schools and school communities. 

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