Pickell on transgender guidelines: District will kept all students comfortable, safe

Russell Pickell, superintendent of Riverview Community Schools. File photo

Russell Pickell, superintendent of Riverview Community Schools. File photo

Sunday Times Newspapers

RIVERVIEW – When asked about transgender accommodations at the June 28 Riverview Community School District Board meeting, Supt. Russell Pickell said the district will continue to follow the law and ensure student comfort and safety.

Recent court rulings have interpreted sexual discrimination to be included under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or transgender status. Transgender people identify with an internal gender identity different from the sex the were assigned at birth.

At issue was allowing transgender people access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

Ken Cameon of Dearborn Heights, who has four children, three of whom are girls, attending Riverview schools through the School of Choice option, asked Pickell how the schools would address transgender restroom and locker room issues in the future.

“Their concern is the whole bathroom, gym, locker rooms with the rulings that have come across from the government,” Cameon said. “I just wanted to get clarification on where the city stands on that. There is some concern from my daughters about their safety in the school and I wanted to get some idea from the school board what the policy is.”

Pickell said the district is still waiting for an interpretation of the law from the Michigan Department of Education.

“There is a lot of misconception out there,” Pickell said, “and that happens when people that are not lawyers try to interpret legal jargon. So they take things to a certain extent that is just not real and it is not something that is in place.”

Pickell said Cameon’s daughters do not have cause to worry about their safety.

“We’ve had transgender students here before,” Pickell said. “It’s never been an issue. We are not anticipating it being one now. We’ve always been accommodating to the individual to make sure that no one will ever be in a position that they don’t feel comfortable or safe.”

Pickell said the district will follow the law and make sure everyone is comfortable and and handled appropriately.

“We don’t discriminate nor do we look to make anyone feel uncomfortable,” Pickell said. “So you are not going to see any significant changes. When the law is properly interpreted, we’re going to find that we have been doing everything right all along.”

(Sue Suchyta can be reached at sue.suchyta@yahoo.com.)