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LGBTQ advocates call on Valparaiso School Board to update bathroom policies

Screenshot From Valparaiso School Board YouTube Video
Simon Anderson Schelling speaks to the Valparaiso School Board on Feb. 24.

Advocates are calling on Valparaiso Community Schools to examine its policies, after a transgender student said school leaders denied his requests to use the men's restrooms and locker room. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of high school senior Jasper Wisecarver, alleging the school corporation violated Title IX of the Education Amendments Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

During Thursday's school board meeting, Simon Anderson Schelling with LGBTQ Outreach of Porter County called on the school district to revise its bathroom policies and mandate diversity and inclusion training for faculty and staff. "Continuously denying Jasper appropriate and legitimate access to student bathroom and locker room facilities is an atrocious violation of his rights. Not only is VCS not doing right by Jasper in their unwillingness to ensure his rights, but they are sending the wrong message to LGBTQ+ students, students of color and other underrepresented groups in our community," Schelling told the school board.

Debora Porter with the Valparaiso chapter of advocacy group PFLAG says these sorts of issues also expand to the larger community. She says that for decades, many LGBTQ young adults have simply chosen to leave Valparaiso, rather than come out.

"For those young people who did come out, they soon discovered that 'It's better in Valpo' did not apply to them, and they chose to leave due to the ongoing culture of intolerance and discrimination that they've experienced," Porter said.

Superintendent Dr. Jim McCall would not comment on ongoing litigation or an individual student but stressed that Valparaiso Community Schools strives to provide the most supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students. "As such, our current practices are now aligned to the most recent case law on the matter, and our administration will continue to engage in the topic," he said.

The school board also received a separate petition from Allies Against Racism, including a four-point plan to address inequality and marginalization.