Atherton High School’s Site Based Decision Making (SBDM) council voted to add “gender identity” to the school’s nondiscrimination policy at its meeting on Thursday, May 15.
The issue came to light after parents voiced concerns over Atherton allowing a transgender female to use girls’ restrooms and locker rooms at school.
With the addition of “gender identity,” the policy now reads as:
“Atherton High School shall not discriminate in the use of school space on the basis of age, color, religion, disability, marital status, national origin, race, sex, sexual orientation nor gender identity.”
The meeting featured 18 speakers comprised of parents, students and various community members.
Speakers against the student using female restrooms voiced their concerns for other female students.
“The issue isn’t an issue of discrimination. I am against discrimination. [It is] that there are girls with a right to privacy,” said Don Dickerson.
Clint Elliott, an attorney from Alliance Defending Freedom, is representing parents advocating a specially-designated unisex restroom at Atherton. He outlined the story from “Beyond the Binary” of a transgender male high school student who endured harassment and the school resolved the issue by allowing him a unisex restroom; adding that this approach is appropriate for Atherton.
Students who spoke at the meeting supported the act of adding “gender identity” to their policy.
“I am 100 percent in favor of this policy. This is about establishing equal rights,” said Lee Cooper, a junior at Atherton.
“Atherton has a reputation of being a diverse school. Let’s help keep that reputation,” said Riley Fitzgerald, another Atherton junior.
Ariana Perry, a senior, is a co-president of Atherton’s Gay-Straight Alliance and has known the transgender student since she was three years old.
“She has been mistreated and bullied. It hurts me to see that. Adding ‘gender identity’ to the policy lets students know that it’s not okay to do that,” Perry said.
Although the policy has been adapted, it is still undecided on how the school will enforce it. Atherton’s principal, Dr. Thomas Aberli, will lead the SBDM council to resolve this in future meetings.
“I have to decide what discrimination is,” said Principal Aberli. “We’re coming with different conclusions with the same facts.”