February 22, 2011|By Ludmilla Lelis, Orlando Sentinel
The Volusia County School Board voted to advertise a proposed change to school policy that adds “gender identity or expression” to the existing list of categories protected from bullying or harassment.
The Volusia County School Board agreed tonight to consider changes to school district policy that would specifically protect transgender students from bullying and harassment.
The board, meeting in DeLand, voted to advertise a proposed change to school policy that would add “gender identity or expression” to the list of categories protected from bullying or harassment.
After the changes are advertised in a local newspaper, the school board will vote in a future meeting on whether to make the change.
The policy change would have to be made 28 days after the ad appears, giving the public an opportunity to review it, school district officials said.
A Deltona family has been lobbying for the change, hoping to protect an 8-year-old child who was born as a girl but identifies as a male. The child is considered transgender — a person whose biological gender doesn’t match his or her internal sense of masculinity or femininity.
At the DeLand meeting, George Griffin, chairman of the Volusia/Flagler chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, praised school officials for considering the change. He said the policy could protect not just this child but others in the district who have gender identity issues as well.
He said the policy could, for example, protect a young girl who might be athletic and teased as a “tomboy” or a boy derided for being a “sissy.”
Other Florida districts, including Miami-Dade and Hillsborough County, have made policy changes to accommodate transgender children, including specific protections against harassment.