Dallas district asks Gov. Brown for clarity on gender issues

DALLAS — The Dallas School Board sent a letter to Gov. Kate Brown and state lawmakers asking for clarity on the Oregon Equality Act as it applies to transgender students’ use of locker rooms and restrooms.

This fall, the district received and approved a request from a transgender boy to use the boys’ locker room.

School officials made the decision on advice of its attorneys, Oregon School Boards Association advisors and an Oregon Department of Education’s civil rights specialists.

“However, we have also received documents from outside groups that have indicated varying legal interpretations for these federal and state laws in regards to the legal obligations under federal and state law,” stated the Feb. 3 letter. “This information has also been provided to community members, who continue to address questions on the legal rights of transgender students, and all students, regarding access to same-sex facilities in schools.”

The Oregon Equality Act of 2007, also known as Senate Bill 2, made it illegal to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Community members who disagree with the district’s interpretation of state law have questioned whether the intent of the law was to allow locker room use to only those who have had gender reassignment surgery. The board voted to send the letter in a special meeting on Feb. 3.

“As the Dallas School District Board, we are requesting state clarification on the application of Senate Bill 2 (2007) in public schools specifically as related to access of same sex facilities,” the letter stated.

Here's the entire letter:

February 3, 2016

Governor Kate Brown

State Capitol Building

900 Court Street NE, 160

Salem, OR 97301

Dear Governor Brown,

We are requesting state guidance on Senate Bill 2 (2007), the Oregon Equality Act, as it applies to transgender students accessing restrooms and locker rooms for the gender with which they identify. In November we received a request for a transgender student to access the same sex facilities for the gender with which the student identified.

We have accessed all of the legal and advisory options available for school districts regarding Title IX and Oregon state law on this matter. Our district administrators met with the district’s legal counsel, Oregon School Boards Association advisors, and a Civil Rights Specialist from the Oregon Department of Education. We have proceeded based on their collective advice.

However, we have also received documents from outside groups that have indicated varying legal interpretations for these federal and state laws in regards to the legal obligations under federal and state law. (Attached). This information has also been provided to community members, who continue to address questions on the legal rights of transgender students, and all students, regarding access to same sex facilities in schools.

Recently, the Dallas School District Board received information that the original carriers of Senate Bill 2 addressed these issues and specifically discussed criteria for transgender students entering same sex facilities based on the gender with which they identify. (Attached from Senator Boquist). Based on the recordings, there appears to be conflict regarding the intent of the Oregon Equality Act and how it would apply to use of same sex facilities.

Oregon law prohibits discrimination in schools ORS 659.850 (2). This includes discrimination based on sexual orientation. ORS 659.850 (1). Oregon law includes an “individual’s gender identity, appearance, expression or behavior” in its definition of sexual orientation, ORS 174.100(6). As the Dallas School District Board, we are requesting state clarification on the application of Senate Bill 2 (2007) in public schools specifically as related to access of same sex facilities.

We look forward to knowing your guidance on the issue.

Sincerely,

Dr. Michelle Johnstone, Superintendent

Lu Ann Meyer, Board Chair




















Jon Woods, Vice Chair

Michael Bollman, Board Member

Michael Blanchard, Board Member

Matt Posey, Board Member


























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