A school district in Kansas has barred transgender students from participating on sports teams that align with their gender identity and using the restrooms of their choice.
The Gardner Edgerton School District, located in the Kansas City metro area, adopted the policy Monday night by a 5-2 school board vote, The Kansas City Star reports.
Board members who voted for the policy, which has been under discussion for months, said parents had raised concerns about restroom use and sports teams. But some students said there had never been any problems involving trans students in restrooms.
“These are kids trying to be themselves, not predators. ... I am here telling you there are people being creepy in our bathrooms. It is not the trans students,” Gardner Edgerton High School student Elizabeth Fiedler told the board, according to the Star.
Speaking to TV station KSHB, Fiedler added, “We’ve never had an issue with a trans student in the bathroom that I am aware of, that any of the students I’ve talked to are aware of.”.
Former student Carter Robinson told the station, “Nationwide, parents have gotten a weird obsession, I feel like, with locker rooms, restrooms, anything involving trans students.”
Students who don’t wish to use the restrooms designated for their birth sex will have to use a unisex restroom, but the school board Monday rejected a plan to remodel some restrooms to be unisex. A couple can be easily converted by just changing signs, but others will require more extensive changes, but the board declined to approve spending $80,000 for construction. Those who opposed the plan said they needed more information before going ahead with it.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas denounced the new policy. “The policy would not only negatively impact trans students’ mental health, it could also threaten the district’s federal funding and open the school board up to potential costly litigation,” D.C. Hiegert of the ACLU told the school board, according to the Star. “The law is on the side of trans students’ rights.”
Kansas, which is a majority-Republican state but has a Democratic governor, has twice passed a trans-exclusionary sports bill, but both times Gov. Laura Kelly has vetoed it.