Officials at Hillsboro City Schools are working through an issue involving a transgender high school student and the use of student restrooms.
Jim Smith, superintendent, confirmed Thursday that school officials are dealing with the issue.
“There is no change in our restroom policy,” said Smith. He said officials are working with doctors and parents on the matter, adding that the issue “has been an ongoing process for a year.”
“We’re not prepared to announce any change,” said Smith.
Smith said two local pastors met with him Thursday morning to discuss the issue.
While Smith said the school board has been kept informed, “This is not a board issue. It’s a legal and medical issue.”
Smith said the school has “a great concern for all students’ rights.”
Smith said that privacy laws prevented him from saying whether the issue involves a student transition from a male to a female, or female to male. He said the subject “is a challenge for all school districts right now.”
In fact, in Troy, Ohio, the school district was dealing with a similar issue until it was announced last Friday that the district was offering gender-neutral restroom facilities to students.
According to the Troy Daily News, Troy City Schools Superintendent Eric Herman said he is simply following the law. He said the decision was prompted by a Troy Junior High School student who came forward last week, identifying as a male, who asked to use the male restroom at the school.
Herman said several meetings have been held with the child’s parents in connection with the request.
“It’s not something where we just took the word of the student,” he said.
The story said that in accordance with the Title IX federal educational act, Herman said, by law, “he must provide the facilities to the student.”
Herman said that in following direction from the district’s legal counsel, Julie Martin of Scott, Scriven & Wahoff LLP of Columbus, and speaking to board of education members, he made the gender-neutral restroom decision on Friday.
Later that day he sent out an automated message to all parents in the school district informing them of the decision.
Mike Perona, public information officer for the Ohio Department of Education, said Ohio is a local control state, and therefore if there is no set law, which there is not at this point for this issue, it falls under local control and is a local decision and local laws would apply.
As part of the gender-neutral restroom decision, Herman said a transgender student can use the restroom based on the gender to which they identify. Herman said any student who does not feel comfortable with the decision to allow transgender students to use their preferred restroom can use the school’s clinic bathroom, which is a one-stall facility.
Following the decision, while there has been discussion from both sides of the issue; Herman said at the end of the day he is following the law and is first and foremost dedicated to all of the 4,600 students in his charge.
“Most of this is brand new for us. It’s something that has happened and that we have to deal with. We’re trying to catch up right now,” Herman said in an interview Tuesday morning. “There is no movement to take anyone’s rights away.”
In fact, Herman said, it is his job to protect each and every child that walks through the city schools doors.
“We’re here to provide a safe environment for the kids,” he said. “All students have rights. This is a law that we are going to follow. And, it protects the rights of certain students.”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary. Melody Vallieu of the Troy Daily News contributed to this story.