Utah State Board of Education Says Districts Implement Bathroom Laws

The Utah State Board of Education wants to make it clear that it is the responsibility of school districts to determine how they will follow a new bathroom law in schools. This law requires students to use the bathroom based on the gender they were assigned at birth.

The problem was that the Salt Lake City School District was not effectively informing students about which bathroom they should use, as required by the law.

The Utah State Board of Education has not given any guidance or instructions, and they have not been told by the state legislature to give guidance or instructions to districts about this bill. “Districts will decide how to effectively inform students and families in their communities about the requirements mentioned in the bill,” stated Ryan Bartlett, Director of Strategic Communications at USBE.

The board released the statement mentioned above because some parents in the Salt Lake School District were planning a “dance protest” while a presentation on the topic was happening at Emerson Elementary. The new guidelines were scheduled to be introduced in homerooms this week.

The Salt Lake City School District wanted to give students a consistent message. However, Kristen Kinjo, a parent with three boys in the district, found the public nature of the PowerPoint presentation in class to be problematic.

“I don’t want someone else deciding whether you are a girl or a boy.” “If you’re transgender or non-binary, people may say that you don’t exist,” Kinjo said. “According to Kinjo, the faculty bathroom is the only bathroom that is inclusive of all genders for most of these kids.” “So, they have to decide between coming out or using a bathroom that no other kid is required to use.”

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The new law says that if you were born male, you have to use the men’s restroom, and if you were born female, you have to use the women’s restroom in places owned or controlled by the government. The only exception is if someone has fully transitioned and changed their birth certificate. It describes male and female based on the reproductive organs of a person.

The bill also mandates that new buildings have more single-occupancy spaces and requires a study to determine if retrofitting is possible. Schools must also create a “privacy plan” for students. The district has changed its plan and will no longer present in classrooms. Instead, they will directly contact families affected by the law.

“Instead of giving presentations to all students next week, our schools will directly contact families who are affected by the changes in state law regarding bathroom usage. We want to make sure that these students and their families have all the information they need to create a plan that meets both their student’s needs and the requirements of the law,” the district wrote in an email to parents.

“I believe that it is not possible to effectively enforce a harmful law that negatively impacts the mental well-being of the most vulnerable population in Utah,” Kinjo expressed.

The sponsor of the law, Rep. Kera Birkeland, who is from Morgan, said that the intention of the legislature was for the school district to decide how to put the law into practice. The only requirement is that it should be communicated in a way that makes sense and is appropriate for the students’ age, taking into consideration the needs of all students.

Kinjo hopes that her local district can find a more private way to address bathroom use for transgender kids. “I want these children to be safe and to know that there are adults who care about them,” Kinjo said.

The part of this law that controls how bathrooms are used in schools is already in effect. Beginning on May 1, schools may be subject to fines if they fail to comply with the law.

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