HILLSDALE - A policy that would allow transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity, and not their gender at birth, passed its first vote by the Pascack Valley school board.
The proposal also prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. It would allow transgender students to take part in gym class and sports.
Seven board members voted for the plan, one board member voted against the plan and one board member abstained. About 20 people, including some transgender students, spoke at the meeting before the vote.
Middle school student Beck, 13, says that he hopes the policy is approved by the time he goes to the middle school next year. Beck identifies as a male, but was born female.
“I’m currently using a gender neutral bathroom in the nurse’s office,” he says. “It’s more than just one person being uncomfortable. This is a basic human right.”
Those opposed to the plan say that by allowing transgender students to use the restroom of their choice, it discriminates against other students.
“I think some of the gender-confirming students may feel they are being discriminated against if they come out and say that they feel uncomfortable with student of the opposed sex in their locker room, or in a bathroom or on a field trip,” says parent Kim Barron.
School Board President Jeffery Steinfield addressed those concerns. "I'd want to say to those parents and students who are uncomfortable -- come to us and talk to us. We will accommodate your concerns to greatest extent we can. I don’t want them to feel like they are being ignored."
A second and final vote is expected to take place next Monday.