One Juneau grandparent is up in arms after discovering that his 9-year-old granddaughter, while using the dressing room at the Dimond Swimming Pool in the Mendenhall Valley, was being watched by a fellow classmate.
And by fellow, the grandparent means the granddaughter was being watched by a boy who was in the girls’ dressing room.
“The boy changed his clothes in a stall, but then came out and watched the girls undress,” the grandparent of the girl said. “She saw the bra drop in the stall, which was very confusing to her. No school official gave the parents a heads up on this possibility. This is unacceptable.”
While the Mat-Su Borough School District has put such gender-bending policies on ice until further review, it’s apparent the Juneau School District has bent to pressure from parents and students who say they are more comfortable appearing to be the opposite gender. Unlike the Mat-Su, the district has made no effort to put its policy into “review” status.
The parents of the girl wrote to the school district superintendent last week, saying their daughter was very uncomfortable having to change in and out of her swimsuit in front of a boy. On Wednesday, a week after this happened, the parents got a response from Elizabeth Siddon, the president of the Juneau School Board:
“The district strives to foster inclusive and welcoming learning environments that are free from discrimination, harassment, and bullying regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression and to make sure that all programs and activities are free from discrimination. The district complies with local, state and federal laws that prohibit discrimination, harassment and bullying.
“Our Administrative Regulation states that access should be allowed to restrooms and locker rooms based on the gender identity consistently expressed by the student. Transgender individuals should not be required to use facilities that are inconsistent with their gender identity, nor should they be required to use single-user facilities. If any student, regardless of gender identity, is uncomfortable using a shared restroom or locker room, considerations can include safe and non-stigmatizing alternatives such as the addition of a privacy partition or curtain, use of a nearby private restroom or office, or a separate changing schedule.
“Protecting individual privacy rights and disclosure rules must be taken into consideration throughout the process. Families are encouraged to work together with teachers and school administrators to develop solutions if questions or concerns arise. The privacy of all students is important and creative alternatives can be used to make everyone feel safe and comfortable during school activities. The use of parent volunteers can help increase the amount of supervision available during school activities such as sporting events or swim lessons.
“You are encouraged to bring any fears or concerns about specific situations to the attention of your child’s teacher and/or principal.”
The parents have been told by district personnel that their daughter can simply use the family dressing room, which has a door on it. But the parents also said their daughter was told to be discrete about using the family changing room and not make a big deal about it. The district doesn’t want other parents to find out what is going on, the parents suggested.
Now, girls are lining up to use the changing stalls so they don’t have to undress in the open in front of the boy, a parent told Must Read Alaska.
“I don’t understand. Why are they making my daughter’s feelings not matter? The other girls are now so uncomfortable they are lining up to use the stalls, instead of the boy using the family facility. She [the daughter] didn’t do anything wrong and she is the one who has to change in the family locker room.”
A parent told Must Read Alaska that her daughter is now putting on her swimsuit before she dresses in the morning so she won’t have to change in front of the boy. Another parent has moved her child to a home school pod.
For a while, the matter was brought up on the Juneau Community Collective Facebook page, but that discussion has since disappeared.