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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

County Executive Balks at Transgender Guidelines

A.A. Co. Executive Steven R. Schuh
While acknowledging that all students in Anne Arundel County public schools deserve the support to reach their potential, County Executive Steven R. Schuh along with Education Officer Amalie E. Brandenburg sent a letter  to Stacey Korbelak, President of the Board of Education stating the board went too far in establishing guidelines to support transgender students.
“We believe that all students facing challenges should be offered reasonable accommodations, and we support several of the accommodations proposed by the board for transgender students, including use of preferred names and alternative bathroom arrangements,” the letter stated. “However, we do not support unnecessary and extreme accommodations that would have negative impacts on other students.”

Schuh is particularly concerned about guidelines that allow for transgender students to participate in single-sex athletic teams, use locker rooms and bathrooms and sleep in overnight situations with the gender a student identifies with rather than their biological gender.
He accused the board of “extreme overreaction” to a letter from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education issued in May that directed public schools to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.  Last month, a Federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked that directive. Schuh pointed out that such guidance is not binding.

“What Trans kids need most is to be included and treated like any other kids of their gender identity,” said Mary Moore, President of PFLAG-Annapolis/Anne Arundel County. “The county executive is promoting fear of hypothetical situations which are ridiculous.  We see through this smoke screen for bigotry against the Trans community and the supportive, inclusive guidelines published by AACPS.”
Students have also pushed back against the county executive’s criticism of the guidelines. “We are offended that anyone could ever think that the contents of a child's ‘underroos’ constitutes a situation of concern or an appropriate topic of political discussion,” Scott Howarth, an Arundel High School student and president of the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils, told the Board on September 7.

“We applaud the school system’s bravery in the face of controversy and gloominess to do the right thing, even if a noisy minority insists it’s not the popular thing to do,” Howarth said.   

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