Parents protest gender inclusion policy language at SKSD board meeting

The South Kitsap School District is under fire once again, this time for “anti-parent” gender inclusion policies parents say encourage secrecy between district staff and children.

Parents and community members packed the district board chambers March 15 for an organized protest regarding language discovered in a district document obtained last month by Moms for Liberty. The document provides guidance to teachers and other district staff on how one should enact SKSD Policy 3211: “Gender Inclusive Schools.”

Titled “It’s the Right Thing to Do and It’s the Law,” the document directed school employees to not “disclose a student’s transgender or gender-expansive status to others, including the student’s parents/guardians …” aside from the legal requirement to do so or with student permission.

“The district will not condone the intentional or persistent refusal to respect a student’s gender identity or gender expression, or inappropriate release of information regarding a student’s transgender or gender-expansive status,” the document said.

The document also included examples using Harry Potter characters of how a student’s profile is marked if the student wants to use a name aligning with their gender identity, as well as if they want the name to be used around family members or not. In these cases, the name would be hidden from the parental view.

Nearly an hour of public comment ensued from the crowd, many voicing their displeasure with the board and saying the policy disregards their role as parents entirely.

“You have to keep us in the loop,” Jessica Rice said. “I understand that sometimes parents don’t agree and are a lot harsher, but there are some parents who really do care and accept their kids for who they are. If we don’t know, how are we supposed to do anything about that?”

Jaime Cross also brought up the question of what this policy did for the personal and religious morals of the staff, namely teachers. “I know there’s a lot of good teachers in the district, and I’ve talked to some, and they’re uncomfortable with this,” he said. “It puts them in a moral position, through their faith or whatever, where they’re having to not be truthful.”

Possibly the loudest voice in the room belonged to Amanda O’Dell, who voiced extreme displeasure with the document’s additional guidance on a student choosing their preferred restroom. The document directs staff to allow students to use restrooms that align with their gender identity at the school.

“I’m not a book banner, but we need age appropriateness here, people. If a transgender woman really and truly identifies as a woman, she would completely and totally understand and respect the fact that natural born and biological women do not want you in their bathroom, in their locker room or in their sport,” she said.

Tempers began flaring after O’Dell’s comment sparked an attempt at applause that was quickly suppressed by board President Jeffrey Wilson, who threatened to have the gallery removed should it happen again. Board director Jeff Daily shot back at Wilson, saying “We’re not going to clear any room on anybody.”

Following the public comment period, Winter spoke to the audience about the document in question. He said it was never the intention of the board to eliminate parents from the conversation, but it could be a rare necessity for children in dangerous situations regarding their parents. He also provided copies of the document edited to exclude the messages that directed staff to keep the information from a student’s parents.

“This is rare, but believe it or not, there are places that are not safe for our kids to go home to, and that’s unfortunate,” the superintendent said. “It’s not normal, but it does happen. So, we changed this to not have that statement up, ‘keep it from the parents,’ because that’s not our intent.”

The edited document was shared with Kitsap Daily News and did include Winter’s suggested changes. Despite this, the student procedure document provided on the district website still states school employees should not share the information with the student’s own parents as of the morning of March 16.