Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Rollout of transgender bathroom law sows confusion among Utah public school families

By 37ci3 May2,2024

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah public schools are scrambling to prepare students and teachers as the state begins cracking down on any schools that don’t comply. new bathroom restrictions for transgender people.

Residents and visitors are required by state law to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender assigned at birth in state-owned buildings. Although the law took effect when Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed it on Jan. 30, it was not widely implemented before a major compliance mechanism began this week. Schools and government agencies now face stiff fines of up to $10,000 per day per violation.

The introduction has caused confusion for Utah families amid a patchwork of plans that differ between districts. Their experiences are reflected Most of the 10 other Republican-led states have similar toilet restrictions. One of those laws—in Idaho—was struck down by a court.

Rep. Kera Birkeland of Utah, a Morgan Republican and primary sponsor of the bill, argued that it was a necessary protection against people who might claim to be transgender to infiltrate the gender space. He proposed the law as a security measure to protect the privacy of women and girls without citing evidence of threats or assaults by trans people against them. Residents of Trance say that he used hypotheticals to justify his exodus.

Lawmakers left it up to each school district to decide how to deliver the changes. Some gave presentations in class. Others sent information sheets home or met one-on-one with families who might be affected.

Despite their different approaches, the state’s largest school districts say they share a common goal: to help affected individuals feel safe addressing any issues at home.

Principals in Granite, Alpine, Davis and Salt Lake City school districts have been trained to handle bathroom issues on an individual basis with consideration and empathy for LGBTQ students, a district spokeswoman said.

The law requires schools to create “privacy plans” for those who are uncomfortable using group bathrooms, but Graham Beeton, 11, said such accommodations can be isolating. The Salt Lake City fifth-grader said she feels loved by her classmates, using her own pronouns, and doesn’t understand why the government doesn’t care which bathroom she uses.

“It hurts me,” Beeton said. “It might bother me to go into that toilet, so I want to go into another one, but the law doesn’t say I can.”

In Utah, trans people can use facilities that match their gender identity only if they have legally changed their gender on their birth certificate and have undergone certain sex-affirming surgeries, which are rarely performed on minors.

Beeton, draped in an LGBTQ pride flag with a rainbow painted on her cheeks, invited her classmates to a neighborhood party Monday afternoon on the street outside Bonneville Elementary School. While teachers at all Salt Lake City schools prepared a presentation about the bathroom law, his mother and many other parents took their children out early and held a party in support of the affected students and staff.

Among them was Mia Norman, an emergency room technician and mother of twins, who said she did not understand how the law could realistically apply to children. He worried that children and their parents could be encouraged to push school administrators and vulnerable students.

Norman and other parents said the presentation this week prompted tough conversations with their children about how politics can affect their lives at a young age.

Fourth graders Lila and Sophia left the presentation confused about why the law exists and worried that it might make some of their peers feel bad about themselves. According to a copy of the presentation obtained by The Associated Press, they were told to contact a teacher with any questions about which bathroom to use and to report incidents of abuse.

“There shouldn’t be a law to tell people who they can be or stop them from feeling how they want to feel,” said 10-year-old Lila Hathaway.

Transgender teacher Bree Taylor-Lough left the school in tears Monday after informing students about a policy that affects them personally. They struggled to keep their emotions in check as they fielded questions from confused fifth-graders who didn’t understand why the law was passed.

Realizing the restrictions would affect their teachers, many of the children hugged Taylor-Lough and handed her handwritten cards as she walked out the door.

“Our youth today have a sense of fairness and inclusion and looking out for each other,” Taylor-Lough said. “It was evident in the concern they expressed for their peers and for me.”

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By 37ci3

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