Kansas school board meeting gets heated over proposed pronoun policy
GARDNER, Kan. (KMBC) -- Gender identity took center stage during public comment Monday evening at the Gardner-Edgerton school board meeting over a proposed bathroom and pronoun policy.
Gardner already has a practice in place with restrooms for men, women and single-occupant restrooms for trans students or others who want their own space.
The public comments Monday were highly emotional. Someone put signs in the ground outside the district. It appears others may have knocked them down.
Inside it was standing room only with more people in the halls. Twenty-five people signed up for public comment.
Last month, board member Jeff Miller introduced a new district policy that says sex is defined as male and female at birth. Students and staff will be held to those definitions and given corresponding pronouns. The policy includes bathroom enforcement, with single-use rooms for anyone who wants an exception. Violators will be disciplined and parents who spot noncompliance can sue.
People are strongly for and against his proposed policy.
"Students who claim to be transgender status will be granted almost unrestricted privileges while the vast majority of students who acknowledge their birth gender will have their rights slashed," said Debbie, who spoke up for the proposed policy.
"I ask the school board to not lie to individuals based upon emotions or feelings or social norms, but to teach the basics of what we've done for thousands of years - biology, science, education," said one man who supports the policy.
"I have used these bathrooms repeatedly alongside trans people and have never once felt threatened. You know who I have felt threatened by? The actions of this school board," said one student.
"You've embarrassed yourselves, Gardner, and the state of Kansas for your lack of knowledge in sex and gender studies. You've also highlighted the severely inadequate sex education we give our students today," one speaker said.
Things got heated in the meeting with board members not following policies Monday.
One public commenter criticized the district saying 150 teachers resigned this past year, including 40 at the high school.
School board member Nick Robinson did not hold back. He criticized the woman for her comments and condemned what she had to say.
It was cheers and jeers after each public speaker from then on until finally the board president threatened to kick everyone out.
The superintendent suggested it could take years to get a policy right, but many board members want something adopted at the next meeting. The school board president said they need to find a policy that works for everyone.
The school board's next meeting is Sept. 12, and the board said it hopes to adopt a final policy on genders and bathrooms.
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