- Associated Press - Saturday, September 26, 2015

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - The Great Falls public school system is drawing criticism for updating its board policy regarding non-discrimination to include transgender students after parents complained that the policy change could allow students of the opposite sex to enter each other’s bathrooms or locker rooms.

School officials say there is no mention of bathrooms or locker rooms in the new policy, which adds a section prohibiting discrimination against students who fail to conform to “stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity,” allowing them equal access to school programs and extracurricular activities.

A crowd is expected at Monday’s school board meeting to debate the issue.

The school district adopted the policy update in January after going through a public review period, and Superintendent Tammy Lacey said the public didn’t appear to have any issues with the language change until a crowd showed up last month at a school board meeting to voice its displeasure.

“I don’t know what happened and why the delay,” Lacey said.

She and some of the school board members have received emails and letters from individuals saying the school district changed the policy secretly and that the policy change will allow for students of the opposite sex to enter each other’s bathrooms or locker rooms easily, which Lacey contests.

One parent said there was no parental input, the Great Falls Tribune reported (https://tinyurl.com/npdagnr).

“With such a big deal parents should know what could be happening,” said Garnett Rope from Vaughn. “This is not about education. This is about something different. We just want to get the word out.”

Trustee Jason Brantley said he received a few form letters from different out-of-state groups in the month after the school board adopted the change in January. He doesn’t believe there is anything in the policy that is alarming.

“If you read the actual policy, it is hard to take offense to,” Brantley said. “I think some group is taking this up as their cause du jour.”

Because of the new concerns, Lacey will review the policy and how it was adopted during a presentation Monday night.

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Information from: Great Falls Tribune, https://www.greatfallstribune.com


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