By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
BELMONT — The Shaker School Board unanimously agreed to give a charter to the Equality Alliance Club, which gives formal recognition to a club that has provided support to the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered and questioning students at the high school.
Proposed by school nurse Sue Ruppe, the chartered club is recommended by the National Association of School Nurses who have said that school nurses are in the best position to oversee and advocate for students who identify with the LGBTQ community.
Ruppe cited statistics that show that this is a segment of the student body that can be subjected greater level of bullying, harassment and violence, although she did not say this is the case at Belmont High School.
According to the National Association of School Nurses, transgendered students can fare worse than all of the others by missing more school, having lower grades and feeling they are often not a part of the school community as a whole.
The association's study, presented to the School Board Tuesday night, said that LGBTQ students are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience loneliness, lack of acceptance, sexually transmitted infections, anxiety, depression and suicide.
Ruppe said the rational behind sanctioning the club, which exists already according to some students but in a non-chartered form, is to provide for a student-led school group that promotes inclusiveness, understanding and a healthy school climate such that the well-being of all students can be safeguarded.
Shaker Regional School Board passed policy in August of 2015 that specifies how the district handles "transgender and gender nonconforming students."
Specifically, the policy states that a student can use whichever bathroom he or she identifies with and is also entitled to use a single-stall bathroom if requested. The use of locker rooms is done on a case-by-case basis.
The policy goes on to say that students are allowed to be called and identified by the name and gender they prefer and any violation of this is an infraction, whether committed by a student or a professional employee of the school district.
When contacting parents, school personnel will use the students given name and identity unless the child's parent has indicated something else. The school recognizes a student's right to keep one's status at school private and personal and it shall not disclose information to the contrary to others, including parents, unless the student has authorized them to do that.
Permanent school records will be kept with the original name and birth gender; however, the district is not required to use a student's legal name or gender on other school records. For testing purposes, staff and administrators shall adopt practices that will not inadvertently disclose confidential information.
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