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Some Mid-Missouri Schools Have Already Revised Transgender Bathroom Usage Policies

Several school districts in mid-Missouri already have policies related to transgender bathroom use, so President Trump’s decision on Wednesday to scrap federal guidelines on transgender bathroom use in schools won’t have a significant impact.

The previous guidelines were issued by the Obama administration in May of last year. They directed schools to allow transgender students to use bathroom facilities that corresponded with their gender identity. President Trump did not offer alternatives to the guidelines and said he believed the issue should be regulated on the state level.

Columbia Public School Spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said that individualized options for transgender students, such as gender-neutral bathrooms and no-dress-out P.E., have been available since long before the guidelines were issued. She said that in 2015, the Board of Education voted to add gender and gender identity to the school district’s non-discrimination policy.

“Often times, it’s easy to just say that students would come in one day and pick a restroom. That’s not how this process works,” Baumstark said. “We have a plan in place that involves developing an appropriate plan for the student with input from their family, with input from the student themselves, from the school, from anyone else that is involved with developing what is necessary for that particular child.”

Southern Boone County School District’s Superintendent Chris Felmlee said that although they have no official policy regarding transgender students and bathroom use, they also work with students and parents on a case-by-case basis to provide accommodations.

“I think it really is a matter of local control and knowing the culture of the community and having the freedom to tailor these practices for case by case,” he said.

Both Jamestown and Harrisburg school districts revised their policies in Nov. 2016, after the guidelines were issued in May. The policies currently guarantee all students access to a gender neutral bathroom. Jamestown said no plans are currently in place to change or revoke the policy.