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New Hampshire School Board Okays Transgender Policy

Paul Steinbach

A school board committee in Keene, N.H., has signed off on a plan to protect students who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming, becoming the latest to address a growing issue facing educators nationwide.

According to The Keene Sentinel, the policy as proposed allows, on a case-by-case basis, for transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with the gender they identify with.

School board chairman Edward Murdough said he “wasn’t too concerned” that transgender students competing in interscholastic athletics — for example, a transgender girl playing on a girls’ team — would evolve into a fairness issue. Murdough added that final judgment on interscholastic athletics policy is ultimately governed by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, which allows teams to protest if they think competition is unfair, the Sentinel reported.

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School districts nationwide aren’t obligated to create a policy specifically protecting transgender students — just to prevent “discrimination based on a student’s gender identity, including discrimination based on a student’s transgender status,” according to a May 13 letter co-signed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education, the Sentinel reported. The letter states failing to prevent discrimination on those grounds are in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Many of the nationally controversial policy points, such as locker room and athletic competition clauses, are mostly the same between a sample policy — issued in 2015 by the New Hampshire School Boards Association as a guideline — and the one proposed in Keene.

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