Las Cruces Public Schools Seeks To Encourage Greater Gender Inclusivity
Las Cruces Public Schools is taking steps toward greater gender inclusivity—seeking to implement new policy to prevent discrimination.
LCPS Deputy Superintendent Wendi Miller-Tomlinson presented the proposed policy to the board of education for a second reading, describing how it will better support student safety, well-being and success.
“The purpose of the policy is twofold, to assert the board's commitment and responsibility to foster an educational environment that is free of discrimination for all students, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” Miller-Tomlinson said. “Second is to ensure that student's physical and psychological safety is a priority.”
The proposed policy also seeks to provide staff with initial training and ongoing professional development to give employees more tools to fight against discrimination.
LCPS School Board Member Maria Flores says the policy is needed to clearly outline conduct expectations for students and staff.
“One of the things about gender policy is the level of discomfort it creates in the community. And the more discomfort that it shows, the more need there is for a specific policy on gender,” Flores said. “In a way, we're educating our community. We are speaking up for our transgender citizens. We are telling them we will not take this anymore, and I just feel so intensely that this is needed.”
LCPS Board Member Teresa Tenorio says current policy is failing to ensure all LCPS students feel safe and understood.
“The policies that we have in place, that are supposed to work, don't work, and [students] don't feel seen,” Tenorio said. “And when they are seen they don't feel understood, and they're mistreated. So, the policy needs to change.”
While board members discussed an idea to consolidate a number of LCPS policies, many school board members spoke out about the need for an independent policy focused on gender inclusivity.
LCPS School Board President Ray Jaramillo says a standalone policy sends a clear message to the community.
“I believe that it should be a standalone policy, and I believe that we should work towards aligning everything else that needs to be aligned,” Jaramillo said. “And I think this would be a great way to start 2022 and envisioning a new way of doing this. And a new way of doing this is by having a gender policy that stands alone, that says what our community says and what we stand for.”
A third reading and possible vote on the policy is currently scheduled for January 4.