Community speaks out on RPS transgender guideline

LGBTQ and parental rights take center state at RPS school board meeting

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(ABC 6 News) – A guideline from the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) says “all students have a right to privacy, including the right to keep private one’s transgender or gender expansive status at school.”

“In an attempt to not exclude one group you, actually alienate another,” Karin Charron said, who spoke at Tuesday night’s Rochester Public School’s board meeting.

The guideline also says district employees shall not disclose a student’s gender identity, sex assigned at birth, transgender identity or information that may reveal a student’s gender identity to staff members, students or parents of other students.

RPS parents upset by the guidelines believe the mandate will leave them in the dark when it comes to their child.

The guideline also mandates that both staff and students use the preferred pronouns of other students.

District employees who refuse to abide by the guidelines may be subject to disciplinary actions, which can include termination.

“As test scores are ultimately shared with parents, any gender identity comments must also be immediately communicated so that parents can be involved with their own children,” Charron said.

The guideline which is based on the MSBA will remain in force until the Rochester school board develops and approves a policy to support transgender students.

“We want to actually take that next step in Rochester when we have the clearest understanding of what the law tells us is appropriate and allowed,” RPS superintendent Dr. Kent Pekel said.

RPS plans to complete the task during the 2023-2024 school year, but said it’s been delayed because of potential guideline changes from the MSBA and federal decisions regarding Title IX.