GIFFORD, Ill. (WAND) - The Gifford Grade School Board hosted a Special Meeting to vote on school board policy regarding equal education opportunities and extracurricular athletics. 

The "Equal Opportunity and Sex Equity" section of the Gifford Grade School Handbook reads:

Equal educational and extracurricular opportunities are available to all students without regard to race, color, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry, age, religion, physical or mental disability, status as homeless, immigration status, order of protection status, or actual or potential marital or parental status, including pregnancy. No student shall, based on sex or sexual orientation, or gender identity be denied equal access to programs, activities, services, or benefits or be limited in the exercise of any right, privilege, advantage, or denied equal access to educational and extracurricular programs and activities.

The board proposed an amendment that would require transgender athletes to participate in sports as their biological sex, not their gender identity. 

The meeting was attended by dozens of parents and community members. Several parents spoke on their concerns for the safety of their children if they have to share locker rooms or bathrooms with transgender students. They were also concerned for the fairness of competitions if students were required to play with transgender athletes. 

Members of local LGBTQ groups said changing the policy would be against the law. 

The Illinois State Board of Education Section 200.20 says, "It is the policy of the State of Illinois and the State Board of Education that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis of sex in any program or activity supported by school district funds."

The Illinois State Board of Education released guidance in March 1,2020 titled "Supporting Transgender, Nonbinary, and Gender Nonconforming Students." It reads: 

The Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) makes it a civil rights violation for schools to “[d]eny or refuse to another the full and equal enjoyment of the facilities, goods, and services” on the basis of gender identity or other protected status.

The school board stated the discussion had to focus on policy alone and not on specific students. However, one parent, Stefanie Williams, shared that her daughter, was the reason for the proposed policy change. Her daughter is a cheerleader and is transgender. 

She made a statement to the board and told WAND in an interview that she was happy her daughter could continue participating in cheer leading like she wanted to. 

"There's a lot of people out there supporting them and we are grateful that the Gifford school board showed out tonight and supported us well and that the policy will stay the same and people can go about as usual," said Williams.

Page 5 of Gifford Grade School's Handbook

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