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    The Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) Board in Louisville voted 6-1 on Monday to approve a non-discrimination policy that includes transgender students and staff. JCPS is Kentucky's largest school district, with 101,000+ students, 172 schools, and 6,400+ teachers, and they've become only the second school district in the state to add "gender identity " to its non-discrimination and bullying and harassment policies. The Fayette County Public School Board in Lexington approved a similar policy in July 2012.

    In November 2007, the JCPS Board voted against adding "gender identity" to its updated non-discrimination policies, though it approved the inclusion of "sexual orientation." The updated language approved tonight was proposed earlier this month earlier this month as the result of a summit called by JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens on LGBT issues earlier this year. JCPS staff and board members were addressed by recent JCPS graduates on the need for "gender identity" inclusion; many shared personal experiences of bullying and harassment.

    At the last JCPS Board meeting, Casey Hoke, a transgender student who just graduated from a JCPS high school, shared his experiences and the need for a trans inclusive policy: "One day in my junior year, I walked into my study hall classroom to find myself crudely drawn and labeled with transphobic slurs by a peer...Then, name-calling and mocking of my feminine sounding voice went on as I ignored him. This continued for days until I stood up for myself and told him to stop...This motivation to succeed and to become college-ready in a JCPS school could only boost for transgender students like myself if policies were extended to include gender identity and expression." 

    JCPS Board members voting in favor of the trans inclusive policy include Chair David Jones, Jr. (District 2), Vice Chair Diane Porter (District 1), Stephanie Horne (District 3), Chuck Haddaway (District 4), Lisa Willner (District 6), and Chris Brady (District 7). The lone vote against the policy was cast by Linda Duncan (District 5). In its 2013 National School Climate Survey, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) reports a statistical drop in anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools nationwide that have adopted LGBT inclusive policies:

    Students are less likely to hear “gay” used in a negative way often or frequently (59.2% compared to 77.1% of students with a generic policy and 80.2% of students with no policy); 
    Are less likely to hear homophobic remarks such as “fag” or “dyke” often or frequently (50.4% compared to 66.4% of students with a generic policy and 72.4% of students with no policy); 
    Are less likely to hear negative remarks about gender expression often or frequently (41.7% compared to 57.6% of students with a generic policy and 62.3% of students with no policy); and 
    Are more likely to report that staff intervene when hearing homophobic and transphobic remarks.

    CONTACT: Chris Hartman, Director
    (502) 640-1095 | @FairnessCamp

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    About Spencer Jenkins

    Spillin' all the Louisville LGBT tea.

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