Kentucky's Atherton High School implements transgender-inclusive non-discrimination policy

On May 15, Louisville's Atherton High School Site-Based Decision Making (SBDM) council held a special meeting inviting opinions from the public on a gender non-discrimination policy initiated by a controversy over a transgender student's access to a girls' bathroom.

Principal Thomas Aberli recently allowed a freshman transgender girl to use one of the girls' bathrooms and locker rooms. This action incited debate among a divided crowd of students, parents, and advocates. According to USA Today, one parent claimed that "the concerns of one student are being given more weight and legitimacy than the concerns of many other members of Atherton," while another said, "don't deny my child's right to be who they are…and to force a child in that position to use a bathroom of their opposite gender only demoralizes and breaks down that child." One girl on the school council announced that she didn't mind sharing the bathroom and another student, Leigh Cooper, said:

Speaking as a female student, I am 100 percent in favor of this policy being passed…your gender is not what you are biologically. It's what you mentally identify as.

Aberli told WFPL that he wasn't looking to be a civil rights pioneer but rather an "advocate for justice and fairness." He also told WDRB:

Ultimately it's my responsibility to decide what discrimination is…transgender students will be allowed to continue to use the facilities of their gender identity…[and his decision] isn't going to change…not unless I'm told otherwise.

The gender identity conversation has opened up questions on whether the entire Jefferson County district should have a uniform district-wide anti-discrimination policy that protects all students, and while that has yet to be decided, the Atherton school council has voted 8-1 in favor of the non-discrimination policy. 

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