Voices for Trans Youth urges Knox County Board of Education to adopt policies

KNOXVILLE (WATE) — A Knoxville organization is urging the Knox County Board of Education to adopt transgender-inclusive policies. Voices for Trans Youth addressed its concerns Monday during a press conference.

“I am a transgender woman and I grew up in a public school system. Basically, if I were to have come out, it would have been a death sentence,” Persephone Webb with Voices for Trans Youth said. “There would have been no doubt in my mind that the bullying that I would have received and the support that I would not have received from the school and also my family. I would have probably attempted self-harm and possibly completed suicide at this stage of my life.”

The organization works with transgender students, their parents and allies.

Voices for Trans Youth wants all transgender children to be treated like any other child at school. This includes allowing transgender children to choose which bathroom and locker room to use, and what sports team to be on. Also, the organization is asking for schools to call children by their preferred name and pronouns.

The Knox County Board of Education is being asked to modify J-210 to include language that protects transgender, gender nonconforming and LGBT students from harassment, bullying, and discrimination. The organization wants schools to enforce the proposed policy changes.

Knox County Schools issued a statement to WATE 6 On Your Side about the matter.

“Anytime we have a situation where a student is feeling different in any way, the teacher is probably going to direct that student to a school counselor because those are the people: a school counselor or social worker, because they have more training around dealing with kids who feel different or may feel anxiety or stressed or whatever those issues might be but definitely there’s a support system in place, a group of highly trained professionals to help students navigate their feelings and emotions,” Melissa Massey with Knox County Schools said.

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