Idaho School Boards Association attempted to push Payette School District to adopt policy that keeps gender identity of students secret from parents


The Payette School district has a policy in place for students titled “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation” that is dated as revised on June 13, 2022. The policy is labeled as 3281 in the district’s files. Unlike many gender policies in Idaho’s school districts, Payette School District’s policy does not explicitly state that the gender identity of students should be kept secret from parents. Parents Defending Education submitted a public records request to the district and received emails and documents showing how the Idaho School Boards Association (ISBA) advised the district to adopt the policy and attempted to push the district to adopt language in the policy that mandated district staff and teachers keep the gender identity of students a secret from parents.

In an email chain from December 2021, a “Research & Policy Specialist” from the ISBA pushes the district to adopt language that hides the gender identity of students from their parents. PDE received a template policy that the district received from the ISBA. This same template is often used by other districts in Idaho, with most districts frequently adopting most of the language word for word. The Payette School District changed the language to ensure that parents were more involved in the process of their children transitioning at school. On December 6, 2021, the ISBA member emailed the district explaining that the organization disagrees with how the district’s Board changed the policy’s language:

Some of these edits seem fine. In other cases, they contradict the advice provided by an attorney I asked about these issues. The attorney advises that Districts not disclose high school students’ transgender status to their parents. She also recommends calling students by their preferred name and pronouns but addressing most other matters on a case‐by‐case basis.

The district employee then explains to the ISBA member that the Board is aware that the language “is against the attorney’s advice.” On December 10, the ISBA member then pushes back again against the district changing the language in the policy but also adds that the Board is responsible for making the final decision:

Because these edits run counter to the advice of the attorney I consulted about this policy, I do not feel this language would meet ISBA’s standard of providing policy that comports with law, administrative rules, and the advice of legal counsel and would not feel comfortable providing it. Policy is the Board’s responsibility, and whether they adopt or edit the attached version of the policy is ultimately their decision. We once again advise that you consult with your legal counsel prior to adopting the policy with the language you wish to adopt.

On December 14, the district employee then responds: “[Name redacted] did a board training for us last night and we discussed this policy. [She] stated that the policy is the board’s decision. ISBA’s role is to present the legal ramifications of adopting the language but the board can adopt what they feel is right for the district. Our board refuses to remove parent rights for a minor so the policy needs to be finalized as it was adopted by the board.” On December 15, the ISBA member then responds:

I defer to the Boards’ requests when it comes to editing the policies in all cases except those where the request directly contradicts firm advice from an attorney. In the rare cases in which a Board I’m working with concludes they want to make the change regardless, I let them know that I’m unable to do so, that it’s the Board’s prerogative to make further changes to the policy if they wish, but that I strongly recommend they consult an attorney.

The ISBA member then adds: “In this case, any further changes will need to be made by the District themselves, so please do amend the model policy we provided to fit what your board adopted.”

PDE has redacted the names of district and ISBA employees from the following document.

Payette School District provided the following document to PDE labeled as “3281 as initially received from ISBA.”

The following document was provided to PDE labeled as adopted on June 14, 2021.

The following document was provided to PDE labeled as a “mark up” to the policy dated February 8, 2022.

The following document was provided to PDE labeled as an amended policy dated February 14, 2022.

The following document was provided to PDE labeled as “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Committee” dated May 8, 2022.

The following document was provided to PDE labeled as the “current policy” in the school district.