GARDNER, Kan. — Following months of debate, the Gardner Edgerton school board has updated the district’s policy related to transgender students’ use of school restrooms and their preferred pronouns.

In July, school board member Jeff Miller proposed a new policy requiring transgender students to use restrooms that correspond to their sex at birth. The proposal also required students and staff to be referred to using pronouns that correspond to the sex listed on their individual birth certificate. 

In September, the board heard from dozens of students, parents and community members about the proposed policy.

On Monday, the school board voted 5-2 to approve a policy requiring parent approval for students to have their name or pronouns changed on official school documents

Board members Lana Sutton, Tom Reddin, Jeff Miller, Nick Robinson and Russ Ellis voted in favor of the policy; board members Katie Williams and Greg Chapman voted against the policy. 

Under the new policy, staff are encouraged to keep a student’s transgender status confidential, unless the student gives permission to disclose their status. The district will require parent approval for students to have their name or pronouns changed on official school documents. 

The policy will also require transgender students to use either a gender-neutral restroom/locker room or a restroom that corresponds to their sex at birth. When a school activity is sex-specific, students will only be allowed to participate in activities corresponding to their sex at birth.

School staff requested the board allocate $80,000 to create six unisex restrooms at Gardner Edgerton High School. The board rejected that proposal with only Chapman and Williams voting in favor of the project.