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Atherton High School Finalizes Anti-Discrimination Policies For Transgender Students

Transgender students at Atherton High School who wish to use a restroom that correlates to their gender identity now may do so under protection of a new school  policy.The school’s decision making council voted 8-1 on Thursday to adopt Policy 500, which was modeled after a Los Angeles Unified School District rule that gives students the freedom to choose which restroom they feel most comfortable using.Atherton Principal Thomas Aberli said the school made “a lot of time investment” in the decision to adopt the policy.“As well as reviewing evidence, hundreds of pages of evidence,” he said.  “As well as parent, student and community input about their perspective.”Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Terry Holliday applauded Aberli for his leadership in accommodating LGBT students.“This is just a natural progression that our school districts, under the heading of civil rights, need to be providing restroom facilities and addressing the needs of the LGBT community,” he said.The policy also allows for the use of smaller, private restrooms by any student that “desires increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason.”Aberli said he used the Los Angeles Unified School District policy as a roadmap  for developing a policy for Atherton that addresses gender identity in school.Los Angeles adopted the policy nearly a decade ago. It arose after concerns were raised about a first-grade transgender student’s need to use the school facilities that correlated with her gender,  said Judy Chaisson, program coordinator for the Los Angeles Unified School District’s office of Human Relations, Diversity and Equity.“A policy like this, it solves problems, it does not create them,” she said.Earlier this week, Atherton became the first school in the Jefferson County Public School system to adopt an anti-discrimination policy with specific protections for transgender students.The need for both policies come after concerns of a male-bodied transgender student using the school's girls' restrooms.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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