The Whitepine Joint School District has a policy in place for students titled “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation” that was “reviewed” on January 11, 2021. The district has filed the policy as number 3281. The policy mandates that district staff and teachers keep parents in the dark regarding the gender identity of their children. Parents Defending Education submitted a public records request and received emails back from the superintendent that included conversations with an employee of the Idaho School Boards Association (ISBA).
In an email dated March 16, 2022, Superintendent Kendrick Jared emailed an ISBA employee with the title “Deputy Director & Government Affairs” about changing the language of the gender policy. He asks: “Would there be any reason to not have policy 3281 read something like ‘The Whitepine School District will follow state and federal laws.’ Although the outcome is the same, it may ease some patrons’ concerns regarding our policy.” The ISBA member responds in an email the next day:
I asked legal counsel about this, and she said that she has “had some districts edit the policy a included a lesser version of that effect.” So – it sounds like….yes? It might work? At least, we don’t know if it will be questioned but it likely meets the intent of the new interpretation of Title IX protections.
The ISBA member then continues: “I’m attaching an amended version of the original policy which has seemed to land better in other small, rural districts.” The superintendent responds: “Thank you! I know a few supers in my area are considering something like this.” Superintendent Jared also forwarded this email chain to the superintendent of the Potlatch School District on March 18, 2022. Potlatch School District Superintendent Janet Avery responded with “Thanks Kendrick!”
The school district’s policy appears to use the ISBA’s template similar to other districts in Idaho. The policy explicitly states that the gender identity of students should be kept a secret from parents. Employees who tell parents about the gender identity of their children can face “possible termination.” The policy states:
School employees should not disclose a student’s transgender status or sexual orientation to other individuals, regardless of setting, including the other school personnel or (in the case of middle school, junior high school, and high school students) the student’s parents/guardians, unless they have a legitimate need to know or unless the student has authorized such disclosure. Action in violation of such student confidentiality may subject an employee to discipline, up to and including possible termination and for certificated personnel, a report to the Professional Standards Commission.