Utah State Board of Education working on gender-identity guide

The Utah State Board of Education building in Salt Lake City is pictured on March 31, 2020. A committee for the Utah State Board of Education spent hours Monday night working to complete a guidance document regarding transgender and gender-diverse students in Utah. (Kristin Murphy, KSL, File)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A committee for the Utah State Board of Education spent hours Monday night working to complete a guidance document regarding transgender and gender-diverse students in Utah.

The committee completed a draft of the document at a meeting in September but later determined it needed further review.

The committee reviewed 14 items — everything from pronouns, bathrooms, overnight school trips, and even what parents are legally entitled to know about their children and their gender identity.

The committee is looking to what other states have implemented that have dealt with some of the controversial issues.

The document isn't intended to be legally binding, but rather a guide for school leaders as they deal with uncharted scenarios.

Kelleen Potter, the mayor of Heber City, is the mother of a gay son, who is now 24 years old and a transgender daughter, who is now 20 years old. She said policies, and even conversations about LGBT youth are a change in the right direction.

"My transgender daughter made it to one day of high school," Potter said. "It would have been phenomenal to have a more accepting environment where people understood and weren't feeling like 'how do we deal with these kids?'"

A study by UCLA estimates there are 24,000 LGBT youth ages 13-17 in Utah. That includes those who are nonbinary, gay, and gender diverse.

All parties, including recent research by the world professional association of transgender health, acknowledge the factors contributing to gender identity development in adolescence are still evolving and not yet fully understood by scientists, clinicians, community members, or other stakeholders.

The committee did not finish their document by night's end. It will turn it over to the Utah State Board of Education when completed.

The Board could adopt it or send it back for further consideration.

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Debbie Worthen

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