Pupils’ gender identity a point of contention at Warwick school board meeting | Community News

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When: Warwick School Board meeting, July 19.

What happened: During the meeting, residents covered a wide range of topics, with many discussions about gender and transgender students.

Comments: Bethany Tomassetti wondered if students were encouraged by the school district to choose their gender and noted that gender identity should be black and white. Mark Mueller gave an explicit and graphically detailed description of a sex reassignment operation. Rachel Wilson Snyder, a member of Moms for Liberty, said she was upset with the definition of gender. Parker Webb spoke about being transgender and said students should be able to express who they are without fear of reprisal. Webb noted that the high rate of suicide is not because someone is transgender or queer, but rather because of how they are treated by society.

Questions to Council: Responding to questions from Justin Cook, Superintendent April Hershey and Assistant Superintendent Melanie Calender, staff confirmed that they do not encourage students to choose a gender or encourage or offer gender reassignment . Instead, administrators agreed that they encourage “students, teachers, and policies that create a psychologically safe environment for students, regardless of gender identity, and that are inclusive, regardless of gender identity.” of gender”.

Other public comments: Amy Martin asked why the school district was using Lancaster General Health medical staff to replace the school district’s athletic trainer when there were multiple events going on at the same time. Separately, Kimberly Regennas has said she disagrees with an opt-in procedure instead of an opt-out procedure involving books and educational materials proposed by board member Jim Koelsch , at the June 21 meeting. She noted that the Library Review Committee reviewed more than 1,000 documents and highly qualified librarians select appropriate learning materials. Parents can already opt out of any material they don’t want their children to read. A membership policy would be too expensive and complicated to implement, she said.

Unit message: Prior to the public comments, Board member Lisa Miller reminded those in attendance that the Board is there for everyone. His words were aimed at bridging the divide that has developed over the past two years at school board meetings, on a variety of topics from masks and vaccines to book bans and equity.

Quoteable: “I see you when you come to speak. I see and hear you all,” Miller said. “You are valued. … We have an amazing board that cares about you all. We are ready to talk to you.

Staff issues: The board approved a change in status for Colleen Heckman to be named Director of Student Services, filling a vacant position. Heckman was a learning facilitator at John Beck Elementary School. During her 30 years with the Warwick School District, she previously served as a learning support teacher, school counselor and acting principal at John R. Bonfield Elementary School. Board members also approved a new language arts teacher at Warwick Middle School and an occupational therapist for elementary schools.

Project updates: The board was made aware of new stadium change orders for the bleachers and the pouring of concrete footings for the stadium seats at a cost of over $48,000. It was also reported that during the installation of the sewer lines there were problems that required a different pump and a budget discrepancy. The council approved an updated plan for the John Beck Elementary School roofing project, requiring areas of the deck to be relined with planks to allow a solid surface for nailing the shingles.

Additional Approvals: The Board approved at second reading revisions to the Policy on Expression/Dissemination of Materials by Students and Non-Academic Organizations/Groups/Individuals. They also approved the election and salaries for 2022-23 of extracurricular bargaining positions for athletics, bargaining position rates and additional professional contracts, and non-bargaining position rates and professional contracts.

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