The Moses Lake School board voted to implement a policy that prohibits the discrimination of students based on gender identity or expression on Oct. 27.

Policy 3211 is part of a Washington state law that requires the district to do one of the three following options:

  1. Incorporate the superintendent of public instruction’s rules and guidelines to eliminate discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression.
  2. Address the challenges and needs of transgender students.
  3. Describe future applications of district policies prohibiting the bullying of trans students.

Moses Lake School District Superintendent Monty Sabin said that this policy was supposed to be adopted back in 2020.

Sabin also stated that if they did not comply with this law, they could lose state funding.

Parents, community members, and school staff alike came to discuss and debate this state-mandated policy.

Harold Hochstatter said he felt this policy defines a protected class and that that in fact is discriminatory.

“A man is a man or a woman is a woman, a man cannot become a woman, a woman cannot become a man,” Hochstatter said. “Every cell in my body contains the marker of my gender that God put there. Now I can mutilate myself, I can have myself professionally mutilated, but there is no such thing as transgender. We must discourage such violence.”

Louise Peeples said she was also not supportive of this policy based on religious beliefs.

“Why are we catering to this small amount of kids that are transgender and the rest of the children are getting ignored, not getting taught what they need,” Peeples said. “Their innocent minds don't need to be taught all of the sexual stuff that's in there.”

Next was Jim Brigleb, who said it would be a waste of school district money and time to implement this policy.

“I sincerely hope that our existing school board sees the absolute wastefulness of this pursuit and stands firm in the professional decision to educate tomorrow's citizens for productivity in society, rather than wasting valuable time and money on a social experiment,” Brigleb said.

Substitute teacher Danielle Boss said there have been trans students who are getting UTIs because they wait to go to the bathroom when they go home.

“These kids are being villainized on a national stage and they are some of our most vulnerable children,” Boss said. “They need protection, how are they not going to be harassed and bullied, that's all this is asking. It's not asking you to parent them.”

Leslie Ramsden said the world is changing fast and it seems to be scaring people.

“They have a tough road and I don't think most of them would choose that tough road. We do need to protect them and they are bullied and they have high rates of suicide, so I don't think you really have a choice,” Ramsden said. “I think it's the moral choice to protect this group of people that [are] really vulnerable.”

After the public comment period ended, board member Susan Freeman expressed her desire to update their existing discrimination policy, rather than accept a separate policy and it later be redundant.

“I don't like our old non-discrimination procedure, because it is very complaint-oriented,” Freeman said. “It's not proactive at all and I thought it was going to be updated when we updated the policy.”

Superintendent Sabin said that when he asked the district’s legal attorney, Kevin O'Neill, whether this policy could be added to their existing non-discrimination policy, the attorney suggested that they keep both policies separated.

O’Neill also stated that they need to remain separate so as to stay in accordance with state law.

The vote to accept this policy came down to 3-2, with board members Shannon Hintz, Alana DeGooyer, and Board President Kevin Fuhr voting yes, and board members Susan Freeman and Paul Hill voting no.

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