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UPDATED June 19: In a move that likely gratified those who spoke in its favor during public comment earlier in the meeting, the Arlington School Committee on June 15 unanimously voted for the third and most recent version of a resolution supporting LGBTQIA+ people in the Arlington Public Schools. 

It includes broad provisions intended specifically to protect those who identify as gender-diverse, nonbinary or transgender – both students and staff members.

The sweeping document calls for all within APS to be addressed by names/pronouns, use restrooms/locker rooms and participate in sports/extracurricular activities as per their gender identity. It also mandates Rainbow Alliance clubs at all K-5 schools.

The resolution was mentioned at a Pride festival held in town Saturday, June 19, attended by four committee members and four Select Board members who were among the estimated 200 people present at that event held outdoors on a rainy day.

 

Employee training

And it requires universal employee training on recognizing and supporting LGBTQIA+ people.

The vote on this version – a recent revision by committee member Liz Exton of her original crafted in collaboration with the newest committee member, Laura Gitelson – was 6-0.

The resolution is to be signed by Chair Kirsi Allison-Ampe, who was absent because of an important family event; running the meeting was Vice Chair Paul Schlichtman.

After the vote, Schlichtman cautioned that “resolutions are temporary” and that details still would need to be hammered out in his policy and procedures subcommittee. Formal votes will be needed later in the year to amend language in the Arlington Public Schools’ policy manual, a “complex document,” he said.

Schlichtman added, “Sending it to the subcommittee it not killing it – it is enhancing it.”

Kardon sees version 48 hours before session

The version of the resolution adopted – the longest, most specific and directive of the three options offered – reached committee member Len Kardon, who had proposed a shorter, less-detailed alternative, only about 48 hours before the meeting.

Kardon said he wished he had known about Exton’s revision far earlier, “so I could have withdrawn mine.”

He did express one concern with her revision, having to do with materials now to be required in libraries, saying that it could be “dangerous” to tell librarians what to include or exclude.

Just before the vote, Exton called on her colleagues to vote for her revision, saying that everyone needs to be “affirming” so that all feel safe and supported – “otherwise, the work isn’t done.”

Key provisions

Significant provisions in the adopted resolution are as follows:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the School Committee supports a plan for Professional Development focused on creating an LGBTQIA+ affirming atmosphere, so that all District employees are trained to recognize and support members of the LGBTQIA+ community; 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Policies and Procedures Subcommittee of the Arlington School Committee is hereby directed to take steps to create gender-affirming policies, including, but not limited to: 

  • Ensuring that all students and staff are called by their requested names and pronouns without requiring a legal name change or medical diagnosis; 
  • Ensuring equal access to all programs and facilities, including access to bathroom and locker room facilities as needed for all students and staff that align with the students’ and staff members’ gender expression, and provide at least one gender-neutral bathroom; 
  • Respecting the privacy of all staff and students who are in transition; 
  • Allowing students to participate in all physical education, athletics, and other extracurricular activities according to their gender identity, without requiring legal or medical documentation; and 
  • Ensuring that the district posts this resolution and any resulting policy changes or additions prominently on the district website, and communicates the values expressed through this resolution to our school community; and to report back to the full Committee no later than Oct. 12, 2023.

Commenting earlier in the meeting were as many as 18 people, all favoring the proposed changes known up to that point

More from the June 15 meeting – the final one of the current school year – will be reported.  

ACMi video of June 15 meeting:

June 6, 2023: Policy objections may be filed but can't be heard immediately, School Committee decides
  

This news summary by YourArlington Assistant Editor Judith Pfeffer was published Sunday, June 18, 2023. A link to an account of the Pride festival held in Arlington on Saturday, June 17, was added Monday, June 19. An ACMi video was added June 30.

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