The city school board of Baltimore, Maryland has sent a clear message: it stands with and protects its transgender students.
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On Tuesday, 10 April the Baltimore City Public Schools board of commissioners unanimously voted to pass a policy allowing trans students to use the names, pronouns, and bathrooms aligning with their gender identity.
This decision caused the board room, filled with LGBTI advocates, to burst into a round of applause.
The progressive policy goes beyond Maryland state guidelines, which recommends modifying school forms to allow students to self-identify their preferred names and pronouns, and that teachers ask students privately how they’d like to be addressed in class.
The new policy
Under this new policy passed by the school board, trans and gender nonconforming/non-binary students will be allowed to use the name and pronoun that reflects their gender identity, regardless of if they have legally changed their name.
The policy also extends the definition of ‘sex-based discrimination’ to include discrimination based on ‘gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation and nonconformance to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.’
Additionally, the policy allows students to access the restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities that align with their gender identity. Plus, it will provide a ‘safe non-stigmatizing alternative’ for students who feel uncomfortable in gender-segregated facilities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2% of American high school students identify as transgender. The CDC also notes that over a third of that 2% have attempted suicide in the last year.
Alaine Jolicouer is the co-chair of the Baltimore City Commission’s education advocacy committee. She is one of several people who testified in favor of the policy. After it was passed, she called it a ‘symbolic and crucial moment.’
‘I saw the need for this change. And I’m very happy to witness it today. Not just myself but with members of my community,’ Jolicouer told the Baltimore Sun.