Angry parents speak out against transgender bathroom access at New Prairie schools

NOW: Angry parents speak out against transgender bathroom access at New Prairie schools

NEW CARLISLE, Ind.-- The debate about teaching gender in the classroom is here in Michiana. The New Prairie United School Corporation (NPUSC) gave parents a platform Monday night to discuss issues such as bathroom access for transgender students.

The superintendent of New Prairie Schools, Dr. Paul White, mentioned how transgender students are four times more likely to consider or commit suicide than their peers. He said that statistic led the district to look into these issues in the first place.

"Our district mission statement very boldly says that our mission is to pursue high levels of learning for all students, and that statement ‘all’ is in all caps," White said. "So, for our 3,000 students, that includes some transgender students.”

One such issue is bathroom access.

White said students who identify as transgender have previously been given neutral bathroom options. These include staff restrooms or the nurse's station.

New this year, transgender students can now use the bathroom of the identifying gender.

White said this change was made clear in an August school board meeting but said many parents were not aware of the situation. Now, because of the uproar on social media, the district put aside time in Monday's school board agenda to give parents a chance to air their grievances.

“Because of this and the sneakiness behind it, I’ve lost trust in you,” one parent said.

"We just mysteriously have money to change bathrooms, and I think that's wrong," another said.

"I do not agree with transgender kids using any bathroom they choose to. If you want a transgender bathroom, that's fine. But my daughter's rights should not be violated because some other child, a boy, wants to use her bathroom," said a third parent.

In a statement sent out to all NPUSC parents, the district announced plans to install "privacy stalls" around all facilities and urinals in school restrooms.

This year, NPUSC also adopted a "Gender Support Plan" for any student that identifies as trans or comes forward with questions.

White said the plan includes logistics such as asking the student for their preferred pronouns and figuring out locker room or field trip accommodations.

“You are a he or a she, not a they or a cat,” one parent said to the school board.

The plan does not require schools to disclose a student's transgender status to parents. However, White said the school board is following federal guidance and legal precedent.

“We are a public school system, we are bound to those federal requirements," White said. "We do not have the ability to make decisions or policy as if we were a private school setting.”

Most parents in attendance Monday night were angry and showed their disapproval of such decisions. But some spoke up in support.

"Gender-affirming language and environments is suicide prevention," said someone who claimed to be a social worker.

"I'll bet every single person here either has a relative, friend, coworker, etc. that leads an alternative lifestyle whether you know it or not," said another person in attendance. "And you need to ask yourselves, why are they afraid of you if they have not come out to you?"

According to White, less than 1% of the district's over 3000 students identify as transgender.

All the resources distributed to parents by NPUSC can be found below.

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