More Minnesota school districts issue transgender guidelines allowing boys in girls’ spaces

(The Daily Signal) – Some Minnesota parents are expressing outrage as two more school districts there are set to issue guidelines allowing boys who say they identify as transgender in girls’…

(The Daily Signal) – Some Minnesota parents are expressing outrage as two more school districts there are set to issue guidelines allowing boys who say they identify as transgender in girls’ restrooms and locker rooms. 

“Schools are focusing on all sorts of things that have nothing to do with academics and really seem to be wanting to socially engineer children to change their attitudes toward things,” parent and Moms for Liberty chapter President Jeannine Buntrock of Rochester, Minnesota, told The Daily Signal. “Their focus is absolutely off, and they’re willing to make a large number of people very uncomfortable in order to make a small number of people supposedly comfortable.” 

While 11 Minnesota districts already have “gender inclusion” guidelines, two have newly introduced policies to allow boys in girls’ private spaces.

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The Rochester Public Schools system is set to approve its abridged “Supporting Transgender and/or Gender-Expansive Students” policy on July 16.

The school district in Minnesota’s third-largest city was expected to introduce an updated version of its transgender student guidelines at a Tuesday board meeting. Changes to the policy from its original form issued in September 2023 allow a transgender-identifying boy to share a room with a girl on an overnight trip without the girl’s or her parents’ knowledge.

Though Buntrock’s three children are zoned for the Rochester Public Schools, she moved her daughters to a different district to avoid policies like these. Yet she fears the “gender inclusion” policies sweeping across Minnesota will find their way to her daughters’ new district.

“It makes me very uncomfortable to think of my daughters being in a bathroom, a locker room, or a hotel room on a school trip that was not single-sex only,” Buntrock said. “I think that girls naturally feel uncomfortable with that, and it’s not right for schools to insist that they become comfortable with biological males in spaces where they’re changing or using the bathroom.”

The policy permits transgender students to participate in school trips, including overnight trips “in a manner that corresponds with their gender identity or in a manner that allows the student to feel the safest, included, and most comfortable.” 

“In all cases, the school has an obligation to maintain the privacy of all students and cannot disclose or require the disclosure of the student’s gender identity to the other students or the parent(s)/guardian(s) of other students,” the guidelines say. 

The district works with students to determine what spaces, including restrooms and locker rooms, are most “comfortable” for the student. Students will “in no case” be required to use the restroom that corresponds with their biological gender if they say it conflicts with their so-called gender identity. 

“In situations where students are segregated by gender, students have the right to participate in any such activities or conform to any such rule, policy, or practice in a manner that aligns with their gender identity consistently asserted at school,” according to the policy. 

Rochester Public School will make “reasonable” changes to the curriculum and train staff in order “to accommodate students whose gender identity aligns outside the binary male and female constraints.”

Buntrock said she understands that solutions need to be found for people who wish to use facilities deviating from their biological sex, but said the solution shouldn’t impose upon or harm other students. 

“It shouldn’t involve normalizing something for everyone else and trying to override their normal sense of discomfort in the name of ‘inclusion,’” Buntrock said.

The Rochester public school district was unavailable to comment by time of publication.

The Minneapolis Public Schools’ board is expected to vote to allow boys in girls’ spaces next week, on June 18. The school board unanimously adopted a policy stating that “gender-expansive” students can use facilities and participate in programs consistent with their “gender identity” at an April 23 meeting reviewed by The Daily Signal. 

The Minneapolis district’s stated priorities in determining transgender students’ preferred facilities are maximizing the transgender students’ “social integration” and “comfort,” and “minimizing stigmatization,” rather than protecting the safety of female students in restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities.  

Bloomington Public Schools adopted a “gender inclusion” policy at a May 28 school board meeting. Other districts with recent adoptions of similar policies include White Bear Lake in January and Anoka-Hennepin in August 2023. 

The Anoka-Hennepin School District in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities instituted its transgender guidelines in response to “a growing number of students who identify as transgender or gender-nonconforming.” 

The policy gives students an opportunity to hide their gender identity from their parents, as some transgender students “do not want their parents to know.” Students can submit requests asking for their gender identity to be concealed from their parents. 

“Upon receiving such a request, the school shall determine whether denying parental access is in the student’s best interest by considering the potential for physical or emotional harm,” according to the policy. 

The Hastings and Burnsville Savage Eagan school districts have had “gender inclusion” policies allowing students to use all facilities consistent with the student’s preferred gender since 2020 and 2022, respectively. 

As a victim of sexual assault, Britni Granquist, Moms for Liberty chairwoman for Dakota County—which includes the Hastings and Burnsville Savage Eagan districts—said she worries about the safety of girls in districts that allow boys in girls’ private spaces.

“I have concerns that this would greatly open the door for more situations like what happened in Loudoun County” in Virginia, she said. “I’ve spoken with my daughter about it, and she doesn’t feel comfortable being around other people in locker rooms for the most part, but a boy would make her feel very uncomfortable as well.”

In Loudoun County, Virginia, a boy who identified as transgender sexually assaulted a female student in a girls’ bathroom in 2021.

“I believe I have the right as a parent to be able to ensure that she’s safe in the locker room,” Granquist said, “and the school has their due diligence to ensure that my child is safe when they are in the schools as well.”