YouTube video

The Mississippi Board of Education will fall in line with the wishes of the state’s elected leadership on policies for transgender students.

The unanimous decision came after a two-and-a-half hour closed-door executive session at the board’s offices in Clinton.

The U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Education issued a set of guidelines earlier in the month that federal law requires them to allow students to use restrooms and locker rooms “consistent with their gender identity.”

Gov. Phil Bryant and other legislative leaders balked at the guidelines, calling on state education chief Carey Wright to resist the federal government. Initially, Wright said she would abide by federal rules, but quickly changed course and said the board of education should make the decision.

John Kelly, chairman of the board, told reporters that Tuesday’s decision was not the result of political pressure.

“This is an independent board by virtue of state statute. We did what we thought was the right thing to do for school children,” Kelly said.

The board went into executive session after a briefing about Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational facilities or programs. The more than two-hour-long break saw some intense moments as some parents who oppose public accommodations for transgender people yelled at reporters.

One man, who declined to give his name, complained that the transgender bathroom issue was being pushed by those favoring a “politically correct” agenda.

Rita Anderson, another woman who attended the hearing, said she believes policies that allow transgender students to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity could open the door to those students being bullied.

However, if all students are taught the biblical principle of love thy neighbor, bullying of transgender students would be minimal, she added.

“If kids are brought up in their homes and families with the right values then they’re not going to be involved in that [bullying],” Anderson said.

Kelly, the board of education chairman, said each school district should develop its own guidelines for transgender students.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Take our 2023 reader survey

Ryan L. Nave, a native of University City, Mo., served as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief from May 2018 until April 2020. Ryan began his career with Mississippi Today February 2016 as an original member of the editorial team. He became news editor August 2016. Ryan has a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked for Illinois Times and served as news editor for the Jackson Free Press.

6 replies on “Ed board won’t budge on transgender policies”

  1. Developing their own policies is good, and recommended in the guidelines. As long as they follow civil rights law. It’s not that hard.

    1. Seemed not that hard to me either and bathroom usage does seem straight forward. Then another article pointed out locker room shower issues. One cannot exclude a bilological male who identifies as female from using female facilities, but how do we stop non trans lawbreaking men from taking advantage of these laws. Conjecture could expand to bathrooms/changing rooms where privavacy is already being violated by pedophiles making internet vids, (this happens in the absence of trans bathroom laws and cannot honestly be connected tho some will try). But the truth is, locker rooms are a unique problem, because users can be exposed for so long, a man lying about gender identification could hide in plain sight, and parents who are not ready for their kids to be exposed to male genitalia would not have a say. Progress often comes at the price of some having to sacrifice priveledges, but if I were a woman or child in a locker room wth a grown biological male (I don’t want to discriminate, but I can’t know his/her gender identification) I would feel that my right to safety and privacy might be disregarded. Lastly, excluding this situation from laws still leaves one set of transpeople discriminated upon. Thoughts?

      1. Shower curtains have proven to be a popular and cheap solution. They not only provide privacy to and from trans and intersex people, but also those whose religious beliefs prohibit them from exposing their bodies to anyone of either sex.

        It’s a choice – use shower curtains so no one can see you, or use them so you don’t have to see them. Either works.

        As someone who’s Intersex, with genitalia far different from the usual when young, it would certainly have been convenient for me. As it was, I was either in the showers and out before anyone came in, or, more often, went in after everyone else had left. And always had a convenient large towel I could use in a corner, facing away from everyone else.

        It did have one disadvantage. I knew my body was unusual. But having no exposure to what was usual, I drastically underestimated my difference from the norm.

        1. Sounds reasonable, though male locker rooms are not conducive to just putting up a curtain, but something to think about when building new ones or conducting renovations. For any one not wanting to accommodate a statistical minority (other’s words, and a flimsy excuse to resist change) providing more privacy in bathrooms period would alleviate a lot of anxiety among lots of people (pubescent adolescents most notably).

        2. I saw that you already up voted my comment. Thank you. I would like to point out that I am a white heterosexual male. I’m considered left of center in some circles (I’m a military officer) and would be considered right of center in say Berkely, CA. Circumstance has put me in what is considered the Deep South, but I have traveled quite extensively. I enjoyed our exchange and wish more people could just take some time to understand others. Sadly, the Internet reminds me of road rage, the anonymity seems to make it easy to polarize stances and to not deal with people as human beings. (On both sides of many issues unfortunately).

Comments are closed.