Lansing school board narrowly approves transgender policy

December 19, 2023

The Lansing USD 469 School Board adopted a transgender student policy at its December meeting, a year after the same policy was approved by its colleagues in the Gardner-Edgerton USD 231 District.

The policy addressing such issues as restroom use, pronouns, school records, and parental consent passed on a 4-3 vote following a public

USD 469 discussed the transgender policy at its December board meeting.
Lansing school board meeting, photo courtesy of the district’s public broadcast

comment period overwhelmingly opposed to the new policy and contentious debate among board members. Voting for the policy were Board Vice-President Amy Cawvey and members Pete Robinson, Carla Wiegers, and Mary Wood. Opposing were Board President Jeff Bolin, and members Michelle McQuillan and Aaron Yoakam.

Among the transgender guidelines in the new policy:

  • A student’s gender identity must be uniformly and consistently asserted by the student
  • The student’s legal name will be used in the district’s official records
  • Staff should not ask students what pronouns they wish to use. The student must initiate the request.
  • Students may use the restroom or locker room that conforms with the student’s gender assigned on the birth certificate, or they may use any available unisex facilities.
  • A student’s transgender status will not change the district’s response to complaints of bullying; those complaints will be handled according to board policies.
  • Parent/guardian notification is required for all students under 18 years of age seeking to be recognized in a manner consistent with their gender identity unless the district, in consultation with the district’s attorney, determines notification is not necessary.

Transgender policy based on one adopted by USD 231

Cawvey proposed adopting the Gardner-Edgerton policy and deflected criticism from board members who wanted Lansing to develop its own transgender policy:

Amy Cawvey

“The USD 231 policy on the Kansas School Board Resource Center website was the best fit for our district while still adhering to the constitution and state law.  This assures parents are notified and must give permission before students change their pronouns or name and socially transition while at school. This policy also follows recent changes to Kansas law on surveys and prevents staff from asking a student’s preferred pronouns. Lastly, students must use a restroom or locker room according to their sex at birth, or they may use a single-use bathroom.  I feel this policy is generous to all sides of the issue while protecting the constitutional rights of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their child.

“I was shocked that a few parents and several staff members are against this policy and encourage keeping secrets from parents. They often quote higher suicide rates with youth who are questioning their gender, but there is no more important time than when a possible life-threatening issue occurs that parents should absolutely be notified. Those opposed to this policy also suggested some youth might be at risk for harm from their parents, but if that is the case, all staff at school districts are mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse or endangerment.”