The Utah State Board of Education moved one step closer Wednesday to finalizing guidelines Utah schools can follow when it comes to gender identity issues. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Board of Education is one step closer to finalizing guidelines Utah schools can follow when it comes to gender identity issues.
Board members worked late into the night to approve the guidance document that determines verbiage on everything from sports, clubs and dress code to more divisive issues, such as facilities and pronouns.
The next step is giving the public a chance to read and study it and weigh in if they have concerns.
Board members started poring over the guidance document — which is not a law or policy but is meant to give educators a handbook of sorts when new issues arise — Wednesday evening and had signed off on it by 1 a.m. Thursday.
“This was sort of the last big push before it goes out to a public comment period,” said Mark Peterson, public relations director for the Utah State Board of Education.
Their mission started four months ago. They aimed to provide guidance to schools on how to address gender identity issues – including dress codes, use of bathrooms and pronouns.
“The ultimate point, however, is so that all students are safe and comfortable at school. That’s the end goal, ” said Peterson.
Even though there’s not an official policy in place right now, we still feel we can do the right thing for our students.
–Jer Bates, Ogden School District
Jer Bates, director of communications for the Ogden School District, said they take these matters seriously.
“Even though there’s not an official policy in place right now, we still feel we can do the right thing for our students.”
Once the board approves the guidelines, they are not mandatory. It’s up to individual schools to use them as guidance. Bates hasn’t read any specifics but welcomes any extra support.
“What’s important to us is that we always respect the dignity and expression and, in cases where it’s necessary, privacy of students who are working through these types of issues,” he said.
The guidance document was released to the public Thursday afternoon and Utahns can submit their input until Feb. 7. The committee will meet on Feb. 23 to go over all the feedback and make any revisions.