Editorial: PSD policy supports transgender students

Editorial: PSD policy supports transgender students

Photo Credit: Milena Brown

Authored by Milena Brown 

As someone who has been yelled at by both men and women for using the women’s bathroom, using the bathroom can be stressful and sometimes dangerous. I am not the only person who has experienced harassment based on the perception of my gender when using the restroom.  

On May 14, 2014 former President Obama signed an executive order that allowed transgender students in public schools to use the bathroom that best aligned with their gender identity. On August 21, 2016 the order was barred from enforcement by the U.S Court of Appeals for the Fourth District in Texas. On February 23, 2017 the Trump Administration reversed Obama’s Executive order. Since the order was previously barred from being enforced by the Obama Administration, the rescinding of it by the Trump Administration serves as a message to the LGBTQ community and the conservative far right. In my opinion it is clear that they are telling the LGBTQ community that they do not support their initiatives, which is in alignment with the far right’s position on LGBTQ rights.

President Obama’s original order issued guidance documents explaining that barring transgender students from using the bathroom that best aligned with their gender identity violated the anti sex-discrimination policy Title IX. The official letter written by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice said, “Please note that the withdrawal of these guidance documents does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying or harassment.” According to the Department of Justice, now under Jeff Sessions, they withdrew the guidance letter because it lacked sufficient legal analysis and was not explained clearly enough.

The guidance that was withdrawn by these departments was originally written in order to help states avoid violating the anti-sex discrimination policy Title IX. The Department of Education’s website, under the Transgender and Gender-nonconforming Resources section, states that, “Title IX protects all students, including transgender and gender-nonconforming students, from sex discrimination. Title IX encompasses discrimination based on a student’s nonconformity with sex stereotypes and gender identity, including a student’s transgender status.” Meaning that regardless of whether the guidance letter is pulled or not, transgender students are still offered protections under Title IX. Pulling it does not really change anything, other than the Department of Justice and the Department of Education’s position on the matter.

 However, because this guidance letter was previously blocked by the 4th Circuit District Court of Appeals for the same reason, the only function that rescinding it can serve is that of a message to the LGBTQ Community. In my opinion this is the White House, and specifically Jeff Sessions, saying that they will not stand up for the rights of LGBTQ students. I think that it is incredibly disheartening and disappointing for this administration to be targeting the most vulnerable people in a community that is already without many federal protections. Students who came out previously may now be in danger of harassment and bullying from their schools if they are in a state or district that does not support or protect transgender students. This also opens the door for schools to adopt more anti-LGBTQ policies without repercussions from the Federal Government.

On May 29, 2008 former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed a bill that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in public spaces including public bathrooms and schools. In 2015 Fossil Ridge High School gained designated bathrooms in the office wings as gender-neutral bathrooms available to students.  

In an interview with Fossil’s Assistant Principal Mark Barry, he described a transition plan that PSD has developed for transgender students that includes changing information in Synergy and other school databases to match the student’s gender preference, and identifying key adults in the building that the student feels comfortable talking with about his or her transition. He explained that, “The reason we go through all that is because we don’t want students to be in situations where people make them feel uncomfortable, and that if that happens we want them to have key individual adults in the building that they can talk with.  We just want to support the student; that’s what these plans are for.” Barry also said that he has been through this process multiple times and that the experience for students, “has been a very positive thing.”

Most of all, Barry wants transgender students at Fossil to know, “Fossil Ridge supports you wholeheartedly and who you are. So we’re here for you, we’ve got your back. Come talk to me.” The support for Transgender students and the LGBTQ community at Fossil Ridge High School goes beyond a simple message or a statement. There are policies in place that support and protect transgender students. These are also policies that will fortunately be unaffected by the rescinding of the Executive Order that withdraws the guidance documents directing schools on the interpretation of Title IX concerning transgender students. Colorado state laws protect transgender students right to use the bathroom.

The progress for transgender rights is moving forward in some states, like Colorado, and regressing in others. This makes the actions of the Federal Government all the more important because it has the ability to create and enforce laws that support and protect the LGBTQ community across the United States.

The discussion of bathrooms and who gets to use them is far from over, but it is my hope that other schools will adopt LGBTQ  friendly policy like Fossil’s that protect and support their transgender students.

Authored by: Student Contributions

There are 17 comments for this article
  1. anonymous at 12:08 PM

    Good job! Nice writing.

  2. Brian Thomson at 2:40 PM

    I know that this whole area is littered with many separate controversial issues, but I will limit myself to the issue at hand in this article, or at least what the main focus was supposed to be based on the title of the article. first off, your use and interpretation of Title IX is way off base. Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” This was instituted to provide equal opportunities for both young men and women in participating or to prevent them from being banned from classes, sports, or educational opportunities in general. This has nothing to do with which restroom you use or think you should use. In addition, reference the section of the quote that I have put in bold and underlined, “…on the basis of sex…”. This is not your feelings folks. It is in reference to the physical body parts you have, and has no bearing on whether you feel or don’t feel your assigned sex. You may feel different about your sex/gender, and I may not agree with it, but I can respect it. Title IX has is not about gender identity, but instead for making the education system equal for male and female. Former-President Obama, in 2014, created an executive order add on to Title IX, including transgenders rights including bathroom use. There are questions to the legal soundness of it; but assuming it was full-fledged law, it does not matter because the Trump administration has reversed the order and is no longer in effect.
    Now, regarding PSD and FRHS’s plans to “support” transgenders. Changing things from the way things currently are would simply be a disastrous move. If the district/school builds new restrooms, you have the obvious expenditures that projects like that would create. Contractors, permits/code requirements, and new materials. That will quickly add up, and this is tax payers’ dollars, not magical money growing off a tree. Schools and Districts already complain and claim that they are short on funds or are forced to make budget cost. This option would call for money that the district and schools can’t really afford to spend on unnecessary restrooms. The schools already have plenty of restrooms that function just fine. The other choice is to allow transgenders to use the restroom that aligns with their feelings. Both choices share the following problems: Safety is jeopardized, and unapproved sexual interactions between students. The safety of students will become at risk from either decision. Students could more easily be sexually harassed, assaulted and even raped with students of both sexes using the same restrooms. In addition, if transgenders are allowed to use the bathroom of their choice, it could put the traditionally gender aligned students’ security or comfort at risk. Also, if either were to come into effect, it would be easier for students to have unapproved relations at school. Let’s see what parents/guardians think of that one, you know, the tax payers.
    With that aside, I would like to critique one more thing about your article. You seemed to use this as an opportunity to attack President Trump and conservative ideals. For this article’s purpose that was unnecessary and I am disgusted that it was published. You either should have kept the article to the point and reported the facts of what PSD was doing, or there should have been an article published with the conservative view point on the subject. Unprofessional journalism on Etched in Stone’s part. This is not the first time the school paper has displayed a one sided, liberal view point. It appears to be a trend with Etched in Stone on controversial issues and that is simply unacceptable for a school newspaper.

    • Serena Bettis at 1:56 PM

      Thank you for sharing you opinion. However, Title IX being legal work is open to different interpretations. As an opinion article, the student’s submission contains facts and her own interpretation.

      As a school newspaper, we are aware of the tilt in opinions, but because this relates to student rights and directly relates to this student, it is publishable under our editorial policies. If there were unfounded ideas, we would not have published it. We have clearly stated that it is an editorial, and therefore there is not requirement that we find and publish a counter opinion. This does not reflect on the opinion of the staff or the school, simply one individual. We chose to publish it because it went through all of our processes and was approved by our editors and advisor.

      – Serena Bettis and Katie Reed

      • Tristan Bates at 11:30 AM

        Other articles have a disclaimer at the beginning, like the one where you said that you wouldn’t stand up for the pledge. This article, however, does not have a disclaimer. Also, the article title is “PSD policy supports transgender students”, which implies that the school district supports it. I’m not disagreeing or agreeing with your points. I’m just letting you know that you are reflecting the views of the school, whether intentionally or unintentionally, with this article.

        • Brian Thomson at 8:42 AM

          Thank for pointing those things out. My only complaint is you beat me to it! Keep up the good work.

      • Phillip Grube at 8:26 AM

        I would like to point out the fact that after Trump’s executive action against title IX on the federal level it is not up for interpretation. It very specifically states that on the federal level these rights would no longer be enforced. The second major issue I have with this editorial is while based on the title “PSD policy supports transgender students” gives this article the tone of being factual and not bias based. While the majority of the article is bias.

      • Brian Thomson at 8:40 AM

        First off, Tristan Bates made some very good points. You should read his response if you haven’t already. In addition to Tristan’s point about the title, the author of the article quoted a staff member (Fossil’s Assistant Principal Mark Barry) saying that the school supported these ideas. Second, you stated that the articles passed your “processes” and did not break your publishing policies. That may be true, but it does not mean it is right. If this article was approved by you all, maybe your policies and processes need to be reviewed. Finally, the “facts” in this article were based on the law, and if they are so open to different interpretations, maybe you guys should do your jobs and not present this to the school as fact. Or if you don’t like that approach, you should present both sides so that students may see both sides of the issue and make a decision on their own, instead of pushing the point of view that the author wants the other students to believe. This is a question of journalism ethics. In fact, Etched in Stone already published an article on why it is wrong for this kind of slanted agenda to be presented as fact. Do the right thing and present the FACTS to the students of Fossil. If you have opinion pieces like this, then you should not present it as fact, present as it is. If you are going to present facts, then they need to be accurate facts.


        If it is wrong for the mainstream media to slant stories, then it is definitely wrong for a high school newspaper, where their are still impressionable people, to do the same and potentially slant a students views for life, instead of encouraging the students to think for themselves.

        PS: The message that is displayed after a comment is submitted, “Your comment is awaiting moderation”, sounds really authoritarian. Almost as if, it won’t be posted if it doesn’t agree with the “big brother”. Just an idea, but you might want to reword that message.

    • Katie Reed at 2:08 PM

      We encourage you to write a counter opinion article to this or any of our articles. We appreciate outside opinions, and want to hear your voice. Feel free to email frhsmedia@gmail.com to submit to our editorial board.

  3. Braydon Luciani at 8:42 PM

    As a conservative I found this article to be very bias, although having some half-decent information. You attack President Trump for reversing Obama’s Executive Order (which I personally agree with) yet have no mention of President Trump saying in his speech at the RNC on July 21st, 2016 that “As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression…” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WMnoa8dLw8). Also, you fail to mention that during a rally in Colorado on October 30th, 2016 Donald Trump held a LGBT flag on stage (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/2/donald-trump-holds-high-flag-gay-equality/). In addition, President Trump kept a Obama era Executive Order that prevented discrimination against LGBT in the workplace because he’s so anti-
    LGBT (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/31/donald-trump-barack-obama-workplace-protections/97275366/). This is all besides the fact that transgenderism or gender dysphoria is a mental disorder, and I have no clue why we are mainstreaming dillusion.
    If anyone would like to contact me to discuss this further, please email me at braydon.luciani17@gmail.com

    • Brian Thomson at 2:26 PM

      It is good to hear from a fellow conservative. I agree with what you said, and the research you put into your response was outstanding. Liberals have had their time of unopposed say, glad to see some conservatives speaking out and resisting the left. Keep up the good work!

  4. Bryce at 9:18 AM

    Thank you for being brave enough to display your feelings to the entire school. During this political climate it is hard to be able to come out and talk about yourself on a large scale.

  5. bella alessi at 8:29 AM

    Good article on a very very delicate subject. I think it is well written and has alot of good information. You might try to use more ethos in your article to try to appeal to the other side of things and sway people to support your opinion. What was your goal of the article because it is sort of unclear? Informative? Persuasive? What did you want to accomplish? Be more detailed about what you want your readers to believe.

  6. Kaitlyn Philavanh at 8:22 AM

    I found this topic very interesting and something that definitely needs to be more regularly and comfortably discussed in schools! This was a wonderfully well-written article that is not only super inclusive to a wide variety of students, but also highly informative. Good job!

    • Anton E Moritz at 12:24 PM

      mira al bobo que esta diciendo que ser transgender es una enfermedad mental. como odio yo esas tipos de personas, las que no valen huevo sobre los derechos humanos ni lo que siente a alguien. Es una lastima que hayan personas como asi en este colegio y espero que el se vaya al infierno

  7. Karli at 8:04 AM

    Great topic that needs to be addressed. However the needed information was in the very end of the paragraph instead of the beginning. I also felt it did not flow too well.

  8. Cambree Williams at 8:03 AM

    I liked that in this article there is background information. It helps give context to the article and show its importance. I think this was a great topic to write about, I also enjoyed that there were quotes from someone who makes some decisions like this and shows support. I wish there had maybe been one or two quotes from students, but it was a great article nonetheless.

  9. Nick Anderson at 7:59 AM

    Nice article. I think it would be better to create laws that allow for students to use existing bathrooms instead of making new bathrooms.