Hundreds turned out for a public meeting in Dover last night to rail against a controversial proposal to address discrimination in public schools.
The Delaware Department of Education policy proposal seeks to ban discrimination based on protected characteristics like gender, race, sexual orientation and gender identity. The policy would also require schools give equal access to programs and athletics no matter what the student’s assigned race or gender at birth. And it would allow transgender students to use bathrooms and play on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.
The majority of opposition voiced Wednesday night was to portions that would allow students to choose their race and gender regardless of age or parental consent. Some say that disregards parental rights, while others argued elementary school children are too young to decide their gender identity. Some parents also don’t want their children to be able to choose their race.
Dover City Councilman David Anderson argued the result could be creating one identity for children at school and another at home.
“But what you’re doing is interfering with family, with faith, with everything that makes this state great," he said. "So please reconsider shelving and let’s let the legislature do its job.”
Anderson and some Republican lawmakers at the hearing say such changes require legislation from the General Assembly.
Kathy Brown is a transgender Rehoboth Beach resident. She said trans people haven’t been well represented throughout this process and there’s things about the proposal she doesn’t like. But she says kids are being discriminated against.
“All they want to do is they want to participate," she said. "They want to participate in school, in sports. They want to participate in afterschool activities, they want to participate in education. And a lot of the bigotry that’s occurring is denying that ability to do that.”
The development team overseeing the proposed policy will continue making recommendations. If substantive changes are made - another comment period will be held on the revised proposal.