JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown School Board is continuing its effort to settle on a new policy for protecting Transgender Students in the district. On Tuesday night, Superintendent Tim Mains and Jamestown High School nurse practitioner Deborah Piotrowski delivered a presentation addressing the challenges transgender students face.
Pietrowski said there are already students in the district that are transgender.
“We have a few [transgender] students at the high school – some are further along than others, some are linked with appropriate psychologist and psychiatrist, and I have one child who’s already on hormones, so we kind of have the gamut at the high school,” Piotrowski explained during the presentation. “And it’s real. we really do have these children. They are going to exist and they’re going to keep coming up through the ranks. We can’t ignore them and its important that we try to help them navigate through the school system.”
Piotrowski also said its important the district have a policy that not only protects the safety of the transgender students, but also clearly communicates to them what they should know and who they can turn to.
“We have supports for them, but how do they know what those are? How do they know where they are? Who do they ask about them – if they do start to feel depressed or suicidal, or if they are being harassed or being bullied? And it doesn’t mean just in the school – there’s all kinds of social media bullying going on. What happens to these kids? And how can we help them move above that and move beyond that?,” Piotrowski asked rhetorically. “The really important thing is that we keep these kids safe.”
Before the presentation, Southern Tier Trans Network executive director Helen Walther spoke to the board, sharing her own experiences and personal account, as well as encouraging board members to approve an affirming and inclusive policy that protects transgender students, so they wont have to go through the experiences she went through while a student.
Mains said the presentation was the second of three for the board to help members understand the issue better, prior to acting on a policy.
“The state has certainly given us some recommendations about policy, but I felt that before we can start talking about the policy, we should talk about the issue because I think it’s an issue that’s difficult for a lot of us to wrap our heads around,” Mains explained. “We don’t completely understand why it exists but we know it exists. We have transgender students in our schools. So I felt that rather than follow the normal process of [reviewing and discussing] possible policies, I felt it was valuable for us to spend some time thinking about the issue, trying to get a deeper understanding and appreciation for what some of the challenges our transgender students experience, before we start to wrestle with the policy implications that may have.”
Mains also said that the board will likely act on a proposed policy later this school year, perhaps in March or April.
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