UPDATE: 11:30 p.m. – After months of contentious back and forth, the Williamston School Board of Education approved a pair of policies Monday night that protects students, no matter what gender they identify with.
Another policy allows privacy rights of all students. That means, if any student feels uncomfortable using a “gender-segregated” facility, Williamston Community Schools will work with the student to find a private restroom or changing facility.
Board members voted after listening to nearly two hours of public comment from those who were both for and against the policies.
Many of the board members who voted in favor said they want to make sure every student, no matter what gender, feels comfortable. More details about those policies can be found below.
During Monday’s meeting, the turnout wasn’t as large as it’s been in the past. Many people spoke during public comment and then left.
By the time the issue came to a vote, majority of the people in the audience were those who want to see the policies tabled.
Kim O’Brien, who has three kids in Williamston schools stayed until the vote was made.
“I am happy that the board passed this vote because I think it’s really important to be inclusive to all students and I think transgender students are very vulnerable students in our community,” O’Brien said. “If we are not able to say your welcome, then they may otherwise feel that they’re unwelcome.”
Sean Bertolino, who is among those who oppose the policies, said while he’s disappointed in the board’s decision, he knew going in what the outcome would be.
“It’s an unfortunate situation but it’s part the society we live in,” Bertolino said. “In terms of citizens, I hope that we can put this issue not behind us, but maintain our congeniality with each other.”
After Monday’s 6-1 vote, many people in the audience who are against these policies threatened to not only take their kids out of Williamston schools, but also put forth efforts to recall board members..
Only time will tell if those things happen, but we’ll be sure to let you know either way.
WILLIAMSTON, Mich. (WLNS) – The Williamston Board of Education is scheduled to take action on a couple of controversial policies Monday night that will address how the school will accommodate students who are transgender.
It’s a question of whether to allow trans-gender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity.
Since the policies were introduced, the issue has garnered a lot of attention among parents, students, and community members who packed inside the middle school cafeteria during previous meetings to speak either for or against the issue.
After hearing concerns on both sides of the issue, the board developed a policy that would fulfill two basic purposes.
According to a letter from the Board President, Greg Talberg, the first purpose of this policy is to ensure that the school community knows that Williamston Community Schools will be a place where all students, including those who may identify as transgender, are welcome and will be supported.
The second purpose is works to provide guidance to the staff in their efforts to support the often unique needs of transgender students.
During it’s meeting Monday night, the board will vote on two separate policies.
One policy specially addresses gender identity. The second policy covers all users of district facilities including restrooms and locker rooms.
You can also view the letter plus the policy drafts by clicking here.
The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Middle School Cafeteria.
The public is welcome to attend. If you are unable to make it, or prefer not to speak to the board during public comment, you can send an email to WCSBoard@gowcs.net.
6 News will be at the meeting and have a full recap of what happens later on tonight, on 6 News at 11.