The Tucson Unified School District is revising its nondiscrimination policy to protect transgender students, staff members and others.
The policy change, approved 4-1 by the TUSD Governing Board on Tuesday, was prompted by an incident at Henry Elementary School, 650 N. Igo Way. Parents there raised concerns about a transgender student using the boys’ restroom.
In response, TUSD held a gender-identity workshop at the east-side school on Wednesday featuring a national expert on transgender issues. Partitions are also being built around urinals in the boys’ restroom to ensure the privacy of all students.
While TUSD says that the policy revision makes a statement about nondiscrimination for all students, it acknowledged that the Henry incident prompted a review of the policy in place. The policy previously prohibited discrimination based on disability, race, color, religious beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, age or national origin. The revision added “gender identity or expression” to the list.
Board member Mark Stegeman cast the dissenting vote, saying that while he supports equal treatment, he had questions that needed to be addressed before he could vote in favor of the policy change. The change gives TUSD the ability to craft a regulation that will “honor, respect and protect” transgender students, Superintendent H.T. Sanchez said.
Board member Cam Juarez supported the measure, explaining he had recently shared the message of nondiscrimination with a group of kindergartners.
“We talked about how people look different and how it’s not OK to make fun of them, and we talked about treating each other like human beings,” Juarez said. “Racism, all of the -isms, these kids are not born with it; they’re taught. I’ll support this because this is about not discriminating against anyone, period.”
TUSD employees, students and members of the public on district property or on official district business are expected to abide by the policy.