As Superintendent of Schools, I would like to provide some context to address recent concerns about the draft Transgender Policy that has been introduced and designed to guide staff, students and families.
One question we’ve heard is “Why do schools need this policy, and why now?” Let me start by reminding everyone that we do have students who identify as transgender. We also know that our transgender students report experiencing bullying and depression at higher rates than their peers. While it is true that this is a small student population, we want them to know that we value them as much as their peers. At CCSD, all students matter and are entitled to a welcoming, safe and inclusive environment.
Although we affirm all students, we must also comply with legal requirements. Thus, we must guide our employees. We do this through a policy. Our preliminary policy work referenced documents approved by the Colorado Association of School Executives, Colorado Association of School Boards, Colorado High School Activities Association, Colorado League of Charter Schools, and our own legal counsel.
During the 21-22 school year, we began translating laws and regulations into local guidelines. We have written a policy to be transparent and provide clear guidelines. In keeping with our commitment to transparency, the agenda for our July 11 School Board meeting was posted both online and in the window of the administration building. This meeting included an informative overview of the policy recommendation as an information item. Like all meetings, this one was open to the public. At that time, there was no public comment.
All policies go through a three-step approval process that includes a submission of information, a first reading, then a second reading and eventual adoption. In addition, Board of Education meetings are streamed live and made available in a recorded video format, accessible at www.canoncityschools.org. We pride ourselves on conducting our business transparently.
On July 25, the policy passed its first reading and received feedback from people who provided constructive feedback. From that evening and in the days that followed, we clearly heard the need to further engage our community as we develop guidance to support our students that reflects the values of our community. As a result, on Monday, August 1, the council and I filed the policy to allow for additional community engagement.
At its last board meeting on August 8, recognizing the timing, the board took the unprecedented step of accommodating all individuals who expressed a desire to address the issue. This is an example of why I truly appreciate their leadership and commitment to our community and our student body.
Please understand that schools in the city of Cañon must follow state and federal requirements regarding support for transgender students. These include permission to use restrooms and changing rooms that match their gender identity. For more information on the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights’ Title IX enforcement, see https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/lgbt.html, and for Colorado Anti-Discrimination Law and Regulations (especially Rules 81.6 and 81.9) see https://ccrd.colorado.gov/regulatory-information.
We have also heard concerns about transgender athletic competition. In this regard, please understand that our student-athletes are subject to the rules and regulations approved by the Colorado High School Activities Association, which emphasize “A transgender student must participate in accordance with their gender identity, and CHSAA rule 2850.3 still applies. . The CHSAA Full Transgender Inclusion Rules and Policy can be viewed online at www.chsaanow.com.
The board and I respect the attention and concerns expressed regarding the district’s practices to ensure that transgender students feel safe and supported in school while the district meets its legal obligations under federal law. and the state. We understand that some members of the community have personal opinions that do not comply with legal requirements. So, the board has asked me to convene a working group comprising the voices of students, parents, and staff to establish directions that will not only meet legal requirements, but reflect the values of our community.
Although laws and regulations leave little room for interpretation, I believe we have the latitude to provide guidance on how we effectively serve our students and meet the needs of all.
Adam Hartman is the Superintendent of Schools for the Cañon City School District.