(MM) NEW TONIGHT … THE RHODE ISLAND DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION IS DISCUSSING TRANSGENDER POLICIES IN SCHOOLS. (CG) THIS HAS BEEN A HOT- BUTTON TOPIC RECENTLY — WITH SOME SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES IN THE COUNTRY — CHOOSING TO OFFER GENDER-NEUTRAL BATHROOMS — TO ACCOMODATE THOSE STUDENTS. (MM) EYEWITNESS NEWS REPORTER ERICA RICCI IS LIVE IN PROVIDENCE NOW — WITH THE DETAILS. (ER) THERE’S A LOT OF CONTROVERSY OVER HOW FAR TRANSGENDER RIGHTS AND PROTECTIONS SHOULD GO, EVEN AMONG OUR OWN SCHOOL DISTRICTS HERE IN RHODE ISLAND. THERE’S NOT AN OVER ARCHING POLICY THEY ALL MUST ADHERE TO, BUT THAT COULD ALL CHANGE. ” we are excited this is happening” IT WAS JUST LAST MONTH MARCELA BETANCUR OF THE RIACLU BROUGHT A PETITION TO STATE EDUCATION COMMISSIONER CAN WAGNER ASKING THAT ALL SCHOOL DISTRICTS ACROSS RHODE ISLAND ADOPT POLICIES TO PROTECT TRANSGENDER STUDENTS. “The bathroom issue is the thing, so was being able to use correct pronouns, used they were affirmed name, as well as being able to have their transcripts in the name they have.” SO SHE WAS PLEASED AS THE COMMISSIONER ADDRESSED THE COUNCIL ON ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION TUESDAY NIGHT. “we would be passing a regulation that would require all districts to have a policy in place in order to guide them and how they implement the existing statutory requirement.” ALL BUT ABOUT NINE SCHOOL DISTRICTS HAVE POLICIES THAT HELP THEM ALIGN WITH THE STATE’S NONDISCRIMINATION STATUE. THE COMMISSIONER’S REGULATIONS WILL CLOSE THAT GAP, BUT THEY WOULD LEAVE IT UP TO THE DISTRICT TO DRAFT THEIR OWN POLICY LANGUAGE. THESE ARE THE MODEL GUIDELINES MOST DISTRICTS WITH POLICIES HAVE FOLLOWED. THEY WERE DRAFTED BY THE COMMISSIONER LAST YEAR AND DISTRIBUTED. BUT SOME OPPONENTS TAKE ISSUE WITH SOME OF THE LANGUAGE OF THOSE GUIDELINES. FAMILY ADVOCATE PASTOR DAVID AUCOIN POINTS OUT THIS SECTION DEALING WITH GENDER TRANSITION IN MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL WHERE IT STATES THE STUDENT AND SCHOOL STAFF WILL WORK TOGETHER TO DETERMINE TO WHAT DEGREE IF ANY PARENTS SHOULD BE INVOLVED. “so when you start thinking this could lead to hormone injections this could lead to puberty blockers.” “so who becomes responsible for the student, who is taking responsibility, the staff, the school staff and that’s a big leap I really don’t think that but I want parents would want that.” (ER) AS FOR THE COMMISSIONERS REGULATIONS, HE’LL TAKE FEEDBACK FROM TONIGHT’S COUNCIL AND TWEAK THEM. THEY’LL THEN BE REVIEWED BY THE OFFICE OF REGULATORY REFORM, BE PRESENTED TO THE PUBLIC, BEFORE LIVE BECOMING FORMALIZED. LIVE AT THE STATEHOUSE, ERICA RICCI, EYEWITNESS NEWS.