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School district considers adding gender identity to protected criteria in policies

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BOILING SPRINGS, Pa. - The South Middleton Township School District is debating changes to its non-discrimination and harassment policies to accommodate transgender students.

Under the proposed changes, the district will add gender identity to its list of protected criteria in both policies.

District officials say there are a few students in the district who identify as transgender. They say there have not been any discipline issues with other students causing problems for them, but wanted to come up with policy changes should the issue arise.

"We deal with each student separately, we deal with their families, we respect all our students equally and that's the way we're going to eventually create a policy if needed," school district board vice-president Tom Merlie said.

The district consider creating an entirely new policy, but will not make one upon guidance from the district's solicitor, who says that pending litigation across the country and fluid standards make it smarter to wait.

"There's a moving target out there at the state and federal level when it comes to these guidelines and regulations so we're letting that play out a little bit until we get a little more structure and definitive information in that regard," school Superintendent Dr. Al Moyer said. "We are going to treat everyone with respect and dignity and by changing our non-discrimination policy is a big step and the right step in the right direction."

The policy change is expected to come back to the full board for final approval as early as next month.