Gender identity to homelessness: Ridgefield school board bans discrimination

Discrimination and harrasment against people for a broad range of reasons — sexual orientation and gender identity, race, religion, color, national origin, pregnancy, homelessness, status as a military veteran or as a resident alien — are not acceptable in the Ridgefield Public Schools. The Board of Education has made this officially clear, adopting a series of non-discrimination policies on unanimous votes Monday night, Oct. 28.

Non-discrimination is made part of the school system’s mission, goals and objectives with the board’s adoption of policy 0521.

“It is the policy of the Board of Education that any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, alienage, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability (including pregnancy), gender identity or expression, veteran status, or any other basis prohibited by state or federal law is prohibited, whether by students, Board employees or third parties subject to the control of the Board,” the policy states.

“The Board’s prohibition of discrimination or harassment in its educational programs or activities expressly extends to academic, nonacademic and extracurricular activities, including athletics, as well as the district website. It is also the policy of the Board of Education to provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints alleging any discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics…”

Gender identity

Policy 5145.4 addresses non-discrimination among students. It includes language defining “gender identity” and declaring discrimination on that basis unacceptable in Ridgefield schools.

“...For the purposes of this policy, ‘gender identity or expression’ means a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth, which gender-related identity can be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, part of a person’s core identity or not being asserted for an improper purpose.”

Hiring, promotions, pay

Discrimination in personell matters is addressed in policy 4118.11/4218.11. It says, in part:

“The Board of Education will not make employment decisions (including decisions related to hiring, assignment, compensation, promotion, demotion, disciplinary action and termination) on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, national origin, alienage, ancestry, disability (including pregnancy), genetic information, veteran status or gender identity or expression, except in the case of a bona fide occupational qualification, subject to the conditions and limitations established by law.”

Homeless kids

The equal treatment of homeless students is required in policy 5118.1.

“Children who meet the Federal definition of ‘homeless’ will be provided a free and appropriate public education in the same manner as all other students of the District,” the policy says. “Therefore, it is the policy of the Ridgefield Board of Education (the ‘Board’) to prohibit discrimination against, segregation of, or stigmatization of, homeless children and youth.

“The Board authorizes the administration to establish regulations setting forth procedures necessary to implement the requirements of law with respect to homeless children and youth. In the event of conflict between federal and/or state law and these administrative regulations, the provisions of law shall control.”

The new policies, which had gotten a first reading at a previous board meeting, were adopted at the Oct. 28 meeting on a series of motions by board secretary Kathleen Holz, which all passed 8-to-0 with one board member absent.