The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees voted Tuesday night to pass a resolution that states the school district "will not support any mandate which replaces traditional gender-specific names such as mother and father, Mr. and Mrs., ladies and gentlemen, and boys and girls.”
Superintendent Curt Dubost said board member Dorian Baker requested an agenda item relating to guidance for staff and students in regards to salutations.
"Basically, it's saying we believe that traditional names should be allowed to be used as long as it's not done maliciously to hurt somebody," said Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Superintendent Curt Dubost.
On Tuesday evening, the board planned to discuss the resolution.
"I consider myself to be a very open-minded person and believe me, my support for all of our protected classes, all of our students, particularly our LGBTQ students is unwavering and I will do whatever it takes to protect those students," Dubost said.
He says the community wanted the board to make a statement explaining where they stand on the issue so it was added to the agenda, but some community members say the district is making something out of nothing and singling out minority students.
"We have enough things at our school that they should be dealing with. Why bring in another thing that has nothing to do with it? Nothing. This is, once again, they are singling out these kids. It needs to stop," said Paso Robles High School graduate Laurie Bryant.
"I wish we didn't have to have the discussion at all, to be honest with you. We could be talking about reading scores, but the fact is it's become a political issue and our board wants to at least have the opportunity to make a statement of where they stand on this," Dubost said.
Dubost says the vote on Tuesday evening won't change anything. It is a statement clarifying where the board stands on the issue, answering questions from the community.
"Nothing's going to change however the vote goes tonight because the existing policies are in effect and will be enforced," Dubost said.
The issue brings up strong emotions for students in the district.
"Anger, very much frustration, and I personally feel like I've been talking to a wall this whole time," said Paso Robles High School student Sprout Aragon.
Aragon, a transgender woman, describes the struggles LGBTQ+ youth face on a daily basis.
"I'm in the bathroom and I walk out, I hear snickering, I hear laughing," Aragon said, expressing concern about students not being allowed to use their preferred bathrooms in the future, as well as intentional misgendering.
"Being misgendered and people not correcting themselves, and don't get me wrong, it's not that big of a deal if you misgender somebody and you don't correct yourself, what's problematic is when you do it constantly after having reminders and still don't correct yourself," Aragon said.
She says she'd like to see more support for LGBTQ+ students on campus and is glad to have the opportunity to voice her opinions at the meeting Tuesday.
"There is a lot of bullying that goes on there, and don't get me wrong, this is going to happen everywhere, but in an area that's primarily conservative, it is really hard to find people to connect with and find people who support you," Aragon said.