North Carolina's Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leaders sent a message to all principals last week saying that when the new school year begins, transgender students are to be called by the name and pronoun of their choice. The students' gender identities will be honored in yearbooks, restrooms, locker rooms, and graduation ceremonies, based on a new measure.
CMS Superintendent Ann Clark said the regulation has been in the works for a year, but fighting over the North Carolina House Bill 2 resulted in educators being confused and cautious, according to The Charlotte Observer's Ann Doss Helms.
Clark added that the focus of the new regulation was to create a safe and comfortable environment for students. Official transcripts will continue to include the name of the student as it is on the student's birth certificate, but schools will create class rosters that reflect the student's gender identity.
Additionally, all students will have increased privacy such as screened areas in locker rooms and single-stall restrooms upon request. Any activities that are needlessly gender-based, such as boys' and girls' lines to go to recess, will be eliminated.
CMS attorney George Battle III and Clark said the new rule was put in place as a result of the guidance from a federal appeals court ruling, not as an attack against HB2, a bill that requires students to use public school bathrooms and locker rooms based on their biological gender.
Although regulations do not need a vote, School Board Chair Mary McRay announced that members are unanimously backing this new ruling. McRay says she will notify elected officials of the new plan.
Myers Park High School Principal Mark Bosco stated the training that came with the announcement of the new regulation has shown him that gender identity issues can be complex.
"Until you really take some time to understand what it is to be transgender, you're just going to miss some things," he said.
But North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) continues to defend the anti-LGBT law, saying that CMS is "purposely breaking state law." Ann Doss Helms of The Charlotte Observer explains that the bill removed anti-discrimination protection for the LGBTQ population and requires that individuals use the public bathrooms that correspond to their biological gender. The bill will be challenged by the US Department of Justice.
"Instead of providing reasonable accommodations for some students facing unique circumstances," the school district "made a radical change to their shower, locker room and restroom policy for all students," Graham Wilson, the governor's press secretary, said.
Last month, University of North Carolina System President Margaret Spellings said she had no intention of enforcing the anti-trans public restroom law.
Mark Boyle of WCNC-TV reports that CMS attorneys say that they are only following the "law of the land."
In an editorial published in Red State written by Susan Wright, the author notes that students in the CMS schools will be required to allow males to shower in the same school bathroom that girls are using. Wright continues by observing that CMS is instituting a regulation that will keep all students safe and comfortable, but that she says puts over 99% of the student population at risk.