Franklin Countys First News

School board approves student trip to China; adopts guidelines for transgender students

Mt. Blue School Board Director Angie LeClair of Wilton, at right pointing, describes her trip in November to China at Tuesday's meeting. The trip was with the Chinese Bridge Delegation, a program of the College Board, which has a goal to build better U.S./China relations through educational partnership. It was suggested that a subcommittee of interested school board directors and community members be formed to explore partnering with a school in China and other world language opportunities.

FARMINGTON - Mt. Blue school board directors approved a spring field trip proposal to China for a group of high school students and two plans that provide guidelines for staff safety of blood borne pathogens and student transgender integration.

Ruth Haszko, a Spanish and French language teacher at Mt. Blue High School, and Gail Carlson, an American Sign Language interpreter, will be taking seven or eight students to China during April vacation. The school board approved the trip, which was originally proposed for the fall, but time constraints to get everything in place proved too difficult at the time.

The Mt. Blue High School students, who will stay with host families during the nine-day trip to China, have been fund raising this fall and have more activities planned to help pay for the costs. While the students have the responsibility of paying for the roundtrip flight which comes at between $1,200 and $1,300 and other documents such as a passport and visitor visa, the time spent in China will be taken care of by the sponsoring family hosts.

The parents of the traveling students have agreed to pay for the balance of costs not raised through benefit work.

In other matters, a blood borne pathogens exposure control plan was approved by the board after a second review. The plan provides state guidelines to minimize risk to school employees of exposure to such blood borne pathogens as Hepatitis B & C viruses and HIV.

At the first review of guidelines for student transgender integration, some board members had questions for the law firm that help draw up the plan.

The proposed plan encompasses some of the possible situations that could occur in school when addressing the needs of a transgender student and how his or her family and school officials could respond to those incidences. It is noted in the plan that transgender and transitioning students are at a higher risk of being bullied or harassed and "a school's failure to treat students consistent with their gender identity may create a hostile environment."

At Tuesday's meeting, Superintendent Thomas Ward said Drummond Woodsum attorneys responded to the directors' queries by advising that federal funding the district receives was not dependent on approval of the guidelines, but the district is required to follow non-discriminatory state and federal laws.

Director Nancy Crosby of Weld asked again what would happen if an 18-year-old student, whom she noted is legally an adult, "exposes themselves to other students" in a locker room situation. If a student, whatever the age, acts in lewd or inappropriate manner to another student there is a code of conduct in place and the school administration will "deal with it," Ward said.

Directors approved adopting the plan with 12 in favor and two directors, Crosby and Keith Swett of Wilton opposed.

A related story can be read here.

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10 Responses »

  1. I'm glad to see that the majority of the board decided to do the right thing and protect ALL students. It's unfortunate that some members did not feel every student deserves safety at school.

  2. I agree that these students should be protected from bullying. I also believe that these students should use the restrooms/locker rooms assigned to their birth gender not the gender they think they want to be. What is happening to this country? It's going down the tubes fast.

  3. Apparently the RSU9 staff has failed to stamp out bullying. They do have regulations directed at preventing all types of bullying; however, it seems it doesn't work so they've come up with a special bullying rule for people who think they are a different gender.

    How many students in the system believe they are different than the gender they were born with? Is this transgender thing an epidemic in the school system?

  4. IF it's one individual, that individual has rights that need to be protected. bill, do you really believe that anyone, ANYONE, makes a conscious choice to change gender when they face the kind of ridicule and harassment that is obvious to anyone paying even a bit of attention. These folks, even if only one, deserve to exist in a safe environment -- and that certainly includes schools.

  5. For those interested in recognizing nature is way more complicated than we thought:

    The following article may be able to put a few things in perspective:

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/06/30/484253324/1-4-million-adults-identify-as-transgender-in-america-study-says

    If the .6 % statistic holds for Maine, our state would include about 10,000 people who identify as transgender, and would translate to about 12 or so in our school system.

    Should we work to comply with a federal rule, and more fully protect students? Yes.

    Thank you Directors, for your thoughtful vote.

  6. To wondering, I agree transgender is a complicated issue. The real problem is do we let boys who think they're girls use the girls bathroom or the girl who thinks they're a boy use the boys bathroom. Only answer is whatever gender you are physically, USE THAT BATHROOM!!! It's not rocket science. Lets stop waisting our time trying to accomidate the few confused!

  7. Are the transgender folks getting their own bathrooms? That would be two separate transgender bathrooms, right, one for individuals born male and one for individuals born female? If we did away with urinals, no one would be able to look at anyone's private areas. Wouldn't toilets in with stalls with doors give everyone the privacy, especially if the transgendered are allowed in the traditional restrooms?

  8. The schools are handling this well, and the guidelines assure that this will continue to be the case. I think a lot of people are reacting emotionally to their thoughts on sexuality and gender. That's not what this is about. It's about making sure that all students, transgender or not, are treated with respect. These guidelines help assure that will be the case. As someone who is a straight male, comfortable with my gender and identity, I don't understand what gays or transgenders feel. As a human, recognizing that others experience life differently than myself, I don't judge them. I don't think that they should be like me. I respect that that they have a different experience. I don't understand it, but who am I to judge another? Judge not, lest you be judged. These guidelines aren't going to burden students with "normal" gender identifications, but will help assure we protect all.

  9. Put in a unisex bathroom, as a parent I would be appalled to have my child be in a locker room with a transgender student of the opposite sex because he/ she identifies with that sex. Where are the rights off the students in the locker if they are uncomfortable sharing a room with a biological sex not an identified sex individual. I smell a lawsuit in the future. Everyone has rights but it seems to me the wording is unfair to anyone that is not transgender

  10. This is crazy. In all of my years of using a public restroom I have never seen anyone else's private parts. I agree with doing away with urinals. We go on and on about privacy for our children, but for some reason think it's perfectly fine for our male children to use a urinal next to someone else without a divider? A sex offender could easily have peak if they wanted to. Yet we are so obsessed over the idea that a transgender person is going to climb over stalls to have a peak at girls.

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