Bethlehem Area School District Expands Non-Discrimination Policy to Protect Trans Students and Faculty

On Tuesday night, in the East Hills Middle School Auditorium, the Bethlehem Area School District board voted unanimously to add “gender identity and gender expression” to its anti-discrimination and unlawful harassment policies.

Openly bisexual board member Basilio A. Bonilla Jr. tells me he proposed the motion after he noticed there were no protections set in place for transgender students and faculty in the previous anti-discrimination policy. “Over the last few years more and more students as early as elementary school began coming out as transgender,” he says. “I chose to propose this motion because every student regardless of their gender, age, race, religion, and identity deserve equal and fair treatment.”

Adrian Shanker, former president of Equality PA and current Executive Director of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in the Bethlehem School District, applauds the efforts to protect transgender youth and faculty in his center’s district. “Robust, inclusive non-discrimination policies make schools a safer learning environment for all youth. We are proud of the Board for their unanimous vote.”

He says the measure was supported by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy, “who both strongly encouraged the board to adopt this policy change.”

This isn’t the first time the board of the Bethlehem Area School District have made moves to protect its LGBT community. In 2012, they voted to give medical benefits to legally married same-sex spouses and recognize marriages from other states, which, if you’ll recall was even before Pennsylvania officially recognized same-sex marriages. [Applause.]

Refreshing news after the unfortunate fiasco at that Pittsburgh-area school over the weekend, huh? Thank God for sensible people.