Vermillion school board to decide on transgender bathroom policy next week

Local News

VERMILLION, SD (KELO) — The Vermillion School District could be on the verge of a new restroom policy that would allow transgender students to use bathrooms of the gender which they identify with.

The school board approved the first reading of the policy earlier this week, with the second, and final, reading scheduled for Monday.

The Vermillion School District has been hosting public meetings on whether or not to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

“We understand it’s an emotional and sensitive issue to many folks and our board has labored on this for three months really trying to make a proactive change,” Vermillion School Superintendent Damon Alvey said.

Supporters of the proposed bathroom policy say it’s a change that will bring about more inclusion in school. Opponents have raised concerns over safety and privacy. The school board president says school bathrooms are safe for everyone.

“The facilities that we would currently be using for restrooms all have doors that lock, all have dividers that are secure that maximize privacy while maintaining some of the safety that is necessary,” Vermillion School Board President Doug Peterson said.

There is no bathroom policy in place in Vermillion. Students, instead, have to get permission from each school’s principal to use the staff restroom.

“As a board, we decided it was worth writing and drafting a policy and debating it rather than simply relying on this passed-down, word-of-mouth practice that we’d had,” Peterson said.

Even if the bathroom policy is approved, school officials say they’ll review how the changes are working and make revisions in the future, if needed.

“At the end of the day, it’s really about the students themselves and how they feel and making sure the kids in our building feel safe within the environment and feel good about the school,” Alvey said.

A part of the new policy regarding transgender access to locker rooms is on-hold until the district makes safety and privacy upgrades to school showers. You can take a look at the proposed bathroom policy here.

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