GSA leaders push to pass Gender Inclusion Policy

Members frustrated with administration’s lack of action

Freshman+Mathew+Loftus+receives+high+fives+after+his+speech+at+the+school+board+meeting+April+24.+The+Gender+Sexuality+Alliance+and+their+supporters+proposed+a+gender+inclusive+policy+to+the+school+board.
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GSA leaders push to pass Gender Inclusion Policy

Freshman Mathew Loftus receives high fives after his speech at the school board meeting April 24. The Gender Sexuality Alliance and their supporters proposed a gender inclusive policy to the school board.

Freshman Mathew Loftus receives high fives after his speech at the school board meeting April 24. The Gender Sexuality Alliance and their supporters proposed a gender inclusive policy to the school board.

Kailey DeLozier

Freshman Mathew Loftus receives high fives after his speech at the school board meeting April 24. The Gender Sexuality Alliance and their supporters proposed a gender inclusive policy to the school board.

Kailey DeLozier

Kailey DeLozier

Freshman Mathew Loftus receives high fives after his speech at the school board meeting April 24. The Gender Sexuality Alliance and their supporters proposed a gender inclusive policy to the school board.

Ruby Stillman

When Gender Sexuality Alliance president Elise Bargman started advocating for the Gender Inclusion Policy, she said she had no idea it would still be in the works over one year later.

Club adviser Kyle Sweeney said she and Bargman pioneered the petition with all students in mind.

“(The goal is to) serve (transgender and gender nonconforming students) with the same equality, respect and opportunity that we would serve any other student,” Sweeney said.

According to the petitions’ written policy, any

individual who consistently identifies as a gender will be permitted to use the bathroom and locker room of the gender that aligns with their identity, regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth.

Euan Lim, a transgender freshman, said the policy would not only help him feel more accepted in school, but it would help his attendance.

“I wouldn’t have to wait half an hour for the person in the unisex bathroom to get out (if the policy was passed). By the time I’m back (to class), it’s been like five minutes, so that’s a lot of time that I’ve been gone from clas
s,” Lim said.   

In addition, Sweeney said she believes the passing of the petition will make the LGBTQA+ community much safer.

“(Non acceptance is) really damaging, there’s a lot of research out there showing how transgender kids are actually more likely to commit suicide,” Sweeney said. “(Transgender students are) more likely to be depressed and more likely to be homeless. They are more likely to feel like an outsider, they are more likely to be bullied.”

Bargman said passing this policy will be effective only if it is followed by administrative st
eps ensuring all students have the 
tools they need for success.

“Having a policy in place is a very important symbolic thing to have for trans (transgender) students who are really scared for their safety, especially in this environment,” Bargman said. “To know that SLP (St. Louis Park) schools
supports them is very important, but also those promises needed to be followed up with action.”

According to Sweeney, despite the advocates’ efforts to pass the policy, the school board has put progress on permanent pause.

Bargman said she is unhappy with the administration’s efforts to advance the status of the policy.

“We’ve been very frustrated with the lack of urgency (with) which (school board members) have been addressing this issue,” Bargman said.

Both Sweeney and Bargman said the school board is waiting on the results of a Supreme Court case that are relevant to the GSA Gender Inclusion Policy before they take any action.

According to Bargman, the length of a court case should not determine the school board’s actions.

“If you always wait until it’s politically safe to do what’s right, I think that sets a bad example. The time to act is now,” Bargman said.

According to Sweeney, both Minneapolis and St. Paul public school districts have had extensive gender inclusion policies in place for years, prior to a Supreme Court case conclusion.

“(Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools passed gender inclusion policies) without the courts being involved, so obviously there is a way to do that without the pushback, if there is any pushback,” Sweeney said. “SLP just has to make it a priority.”

Bargman said regardless of time, she is determined to see her efforts fulfilled.

“In a school district that prides itself on our equity and diversity, I think it’s shameful that we don’t have policies in place to protect trans students,” Bargman said. “I think it needs to happen. I plan to be working on (the policy) as long as it takes.”  

View the petition at change.org. Bargman and her compatriots spoke at the school board meeting April 24.

 

This story has been changed to reflect an accurate timeline, Echo apologizes for this mistake.

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