As of Tuesday, May 10, 2016
DALLAS — Oregon Department of Education’s guidelines regarding treatment of transgender students will not affect Dallas School District’s policy or plans to remodel its facilities.
The department issued the guidance Thursday in response to question from students, parents and school districts across the state, including Dallas School District.
The guidance advises districts to use the names and pronouns that match a student’s gender identity, if requested, and allow students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender with which they identify, among other recommendations.
“The guidelines are intended to suggest best practices and to provide a foundation for the educational community to safe and supportive school cultures,” the 15-page document read.
Dallas recently completed a plan for remodeling locker rooms and restrooms throughout the district to accommodate more student privacy for those who request it. A committee working on behalf of the superintendent recommended waiting to finalize the plan until after the state’s guidelines were issued.
“After having read the ODE recommendation, those recommendations are right in line,” said Superintendent Michelle Johnstone.
She said nothing in the construction plans would need to be changed as a result of ODE’s advice. The district will be able to use voter-approved maintenance bond funding to pay for the projects, a portion of which was already on the bond project list before the privacy issue arose.
Dallas High School Principal Steve Spencer said the district may have to review its sex education curriculum to ensure it meets the guidelines.
ODE said that unisex and private changing areas are fine, if a student wants to use them, saying “alternative accommodations, such as single “unisex” bathroom or private changing space should be made available to students who request them, but should not be forced upon students, or presented as an only option.”
Johnstone said students requesting full inclusion or separate facilities can be accommodated with the district’s policy and restroom/locker room remodeling plan, as can other students needing more privacy.
She said the district will work with each student on a case-by-case basis.
“We want to do what is best for all of our kids, all the time,” Johnstone said.