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CMS Hopes To Roll Out Transgender Student Policy This Fall

Mark Hames
Charlotte Observer

CMS had been coming up with guidance to give schools on how to handle transgender students. That work started before House Bill 2 surfaced requiring students to use the bathroom of the gender on their birth certificate, before the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled otherwise, and the federal government issued its own guidelines. CMS is now holding off on its work, at least for now. 

Since CMS doesn’t have a policy on how schools should treat transgender students, principals figure things out one kid at a time. CMS Superintendent Ann Clark says that no longer makes sense.

"We need to make sure our principals have clarity of the position and there's certainly confusion out there right now," says Clark.

The district began working on a regulation earlier this year. The team was looking at how schools should accommodate transgender students when it comes to lots of things like uniforms, athletics, and JROTC.

CLARK: That guidance looks different at an elementary school, than it would at a middle school where you have co-curricular, athletics, and clubs, and chorus, than it does at high school.  So looking at dress codes. Just really being comprehensive about it would be the best way to describe it.

WORF: Would it include bathroom use?

CLARK: I think it will have to. As the superintendents from across the state have been in discussions as recently as last week, obviously, the fourth circuit ruling gives very clear guidance. And I don't think school districts or universities are going to be able to do anything other than that guidance. But at the end of the day, I feel like there's not resolution. I don't want to respond and respond again. So I'm really trying to wait and see if we get to a place of resolution with the state of North Carolina. Because I think our university presidents and superintendents are being put in an untenable situation. But at the end of the day, I'm very clear who I serve in terms of students and I want them to feel safe, welcomed, and supported. I also want to adhere to the law. 

Clark expects to get some resolution on the matter soon. She wants to give schools guidance on how to handle transgender students by the time kids go back to school in the fall.   

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.