Wisconsin’s Green Bay Area Public School District has officially banned bullying in schools based on gender identity. Educators within the district say they are also looking for other ways to make the school experience better for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
Brian Juchems, of the Madison-based Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) for Safe Schools praises the school district saying the schools will now “consider ways to make gay-straight alliances more effective.”
Each of the Green Bay district’s four high schools, as well as Washington Middle School, maintain GSA groups.
The Wisconsin school district is among the first in the state to offer training for staff on gender and sexual orientation topics.
Elizabeth Wetzel Gracyalny, a social worker at East High School, who also functions as the school district’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning coordinator commented, “We know there is bullying and harassment going on, and we want students to know that it is not acceptable.” She also added, “There wasn’t a special rule for making fun of kids for gender expression, and we wanted it to be in black and white. If we have a rule, we can say ‘This is a rule you are breaking.'”
In addition to the new bullying policy, school district officials are examining additional ways to make their schools more accommodating for transgender students, such as gender-neutral bathroom facilities and new locker room accommodations for transgender students.
District planners are working with a state rights advocacy group to implement possible upcoming changes.
Wisconsin’s Janesville School District recently adopted a new school policy protecting students from discrimination based on gender identity. School policies had already banned discrimination based on sex; race; religion; national origin; ancestry; creed; color; pregnancy; marital or parental status; sexual orientation; and offered protections for those with physical, mental, emotional, or learning disabilities. With the updated policy, the district will now allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room of the gender with which they identify, as long as parents provide a request in writing and the school principal gives his or her authorization.