Back in January, the Greenwich Board of Education voted along party lines on a policy codifying Title IX, which meant it failed to pass.
Andreana Bellach of Shipman and Goodman, an attorney hired by the district, explained that the board was required by law to adopt a policy in compliance with Title IX.
A heated discussion ensued about trans athletes competing in sports, with the four Democratic members voting in favor and the four Republicans voting against.
At the time, Republican Cody Kittle said, “I don’t think we’re doing any harm. We’re just allowing something like that to play out and if down the road we say, you know this is costing too much in lawyers, or causing other issues, we can re-evaluate it.”
“I don’t care if it is Connecticut law,” said Republican vice chair Karen Kowalski.
From there, the policy went back the Policy Governance Committee who evaluated revisions that migh be compliant with both Title IX requirements and acceptable to all BOE members.
The result was the language was amended to remove the statement, “Discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex includes discrimination or harassment on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”
The new language added, “The Board agrees to comply with Title IX of the Education amendments of 1972 and the Regulations as amended in the Final Rule promulgated pursuant thereto.”
During the public hearing portion of Thursday’s meeting, strong opinions were expressed.
Beth MacGillivray, chair of the Greenwich Republican Town Committee, spoke as a parent.
“I am speaking out against the potential travesty of allowing males competing in female sports,” she said. “Firstly, I am not confused about what is a woman or female, nor a man or male. Science has taught me there are two types of humans: females with XX chromosomes and males with XY chromosomes.”
Talking about having competed on a championship ski team in college, MacGillivray said sexual preference was not relevant to placement on a boys or girls team.
“Even one of the male ski racers – gay, or homosexual – out-skied any girl or woman on the race course every time.”
Joe Solari, RTC district 8 leader who also spoke as a parent, said he ran a group called Concerned Greenwich Parents whose aim was to protect parental rights.
“Stop the state mandate to allow boys to play girls sports,” Solari said.
“It’s crazy. It doesn’t make sense. No one wants it,” he said. “Yet it’s being pushed forward by the state. All mandates use force to push an agenda. Whether that’s boys playing girls sports or all the acronym, radical, progressive programs like CRT, SEL and DEI, mandated by the state and woven into the curriculum that promote a political agenda, spur division, sexualize children, and change the focus from education for achievement to education for indoctrination, that hurts our children instead of helps them.”
“Stand up and fight back against Hartford,” Solari said. “Don’t comply with state mandates, but protect our children from them.”
Others spoke from a different point of view.
Elizabeth DeHaven, a parent who has worked 25+ years in education and directs an educational research lab, described herself as “an upstander,” someone who takes action to stop bullying and discrimination.
“As I’ve watched the Title IX student policy discussion unfold over the last 6 months, I have at many times been speechless, angry, and unsure if I really heard what I did, and overall ashamed that these conversations are happening at the meetings of the governing body of our schools. “
“If this was about transgender girls’ participation in sports, I’d be here talking to you about the fact that one of the CT cisgender girls who filed the lawsuit over the track and field participation, beat the transgender girl named in the suit two days later at the championship,” DeHaven said. “Or that an estimated 10% of women have Polycystic ovary syndrome which elevates their testosterone level. But this is not about transgender participation in sports.”
“This discussion, and the deletion of gender identity and sexual orientation is not supportive of our students, and is not just for students who identify in these ways,” DeHaven aded.
Aimee Mueth urged the board to have empathy.
She said the new language of the policy sent the wrong message.
“Imagine what you would want for your child in these circumstances. Imagine how you would want to protect them from the shame and internalized negative feelings about themselves, in addition to the physical and emotional abuse they’ve experienced from their peers, or the additional trauma experienced from the adults in the building without skills to cope with these children and help them manage the bullying,” Mueth said.
“Think of others. Your role is to protect all students. Lead with empathy,” she added.
Kristen Nieminski said women’s sports were being destroyed, that students were being taught that gender is fluid, and that progressive ideology was “poisoning the minds of our youth.”
“Schools need to be grounded in science and facts, not political social justice and progressive garbage,” Nieminski said. “There are schools that push kids into transitioning to the opposite sex and have these conversations in secrecy from their parents…This will come to our school system if we do not fight against it now.”
Jan Barro, a Greenwich Schools parent, referred to “behind-the-scenes board discussions” that resulted in the amended policy, which she said eliminated a salient clause.
“That deleted clause stated: ‘Discrimination or harassment on the basis of sex includes discrimination or harassment on the basis gender identity or sexual orientation.'”
“This was stricken. Removed,” Barro said. “Somehow this concept is unacceptable to this board, but notably, just for the kids.”
Barro noted that in January the board approved a Title IX policy for staff without redaction.
“Thankfully, and as you already know, the Board of Education cannot undo Title IX protections with an edit. Title IX does protect students against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”
Barro said deliberately omitting mention of gender identity or sexual orientation constituted a missed opportunity to set an example of openness and acceptance, and affirm civil rights of all students.
Barro was right that the edited policy could not undo Title IX protections.
About three hours into the meeting, the revised policy was presented and quickly approved.
Christina Downey from the Policy Governance Committee said, “The policy provides protection to all students under Title IX. Even in the absence of this policy, under the law, the students would have those protections.”
“The law is already in place,” Downey said.
“This covers all of our students, whether there is language in there or not,” said Karen Hirsh.
After just a few minutes the board voted unanimously to approve the policy.