STOW, Ohio (WJW) – Members of the Stow-Munroe Falls School Board on Monday evening voted to add a new line in the district’s staff dress code, which recognizes the right of staff members to dress according to their gender identity.
The line is in addition to other, existing, dress code requirements that they must also be:
- physically clean
- neat and well-groomed
- dress in a manner consistent with their professional responsibilities
- dress in a manner that communicates to students pride in personal appearance
- dress in a manner that does not cause damage to district property and be groomed in such a way that their hairstyle or dress does not disrupt the educational process nor cause a health or safety hazard
The new guideline was crafted by an organization called Northeast Ohio Learning Associates, which consults on policy matters with 1,500 schools across the nation.
A spokesman for NEOLA tells FOX 8 by phone from Florida that they offer only guidance, and if a client district chooses not to adopt the language that is also fine. Even if the new line in its policy is not adopted teachers and staff are believed to still have the right under Title IX, which states:
“No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid.”
The new addition is applauded by Aaron Yeager of the Stow Collaboration for Change.
“Especially people who are non-binary, who identify as trans, they have specific challenges when it comes to the classroom the workplace,” said Yeager.
It is also welcomed by Lisa Berthold, a retired Stow grade school teacher and grandmother.
“As long as the dress code is not completely inappropriate, practically nudity, if you know what I mean, but of course if it is in the correct parameter, I see nothing wrong with it,” said Berthold.
FOX 8 also spoke with other parents outside of the district’s high school and found even those who are uncomfortable with the policy are understanding of why it is being considered.
“I think they have to think about really what they want to do and I don’t feel it something that everyone is going to agree with but in another sense I don’t think it’s really wrong to do it,” said Lisa Dayton.
“We are what God created us, and that doesn’t mean that we are going to hate on people who think otherwise who identify differently, they are still human beings,” said Scott Witner.
Monday’s board meeting took place at Kimpton Middle School at 7 p.m. and the resolution passed with little fanfare.