IREA president reaffirms association’s stance on proposed transgender regulations

GEORGETOWN — The Indian River Education Association is on board with the school district’s board of education in opposition to controversial transgender anti-discrimination regulations proposed by the state that have been sent back to the drawing board.

IREA President J.R. Emanuele

IREA president J.R. Emanuele made that perfectly clear at IRSD’s Dec. 18 school board meeting.

At its Nov. 27 meeting, the Indian River School District board of education officially opposed the proposal, which would allow Delaware public school students to self-identify their gender or race without parental input, notification or consent.

In late November, the Delaware State Education Association’s executive board voted to support Regulation 225.

“The local IREA did not support that. We were outvoted. That’s the way it goes,” said Mr. Emanuele. “We went to a presidents’ meeting this past week and we made it very well known where we stood on it, so much so that the DSEA is now in the process of developing new procedures for the whole state when these types of potentially controversial issues arise.”

IREA is part of the approximate 13,000-member DSEA.

The proposed regulations, initiated by Gov. John Carney over the summer through the Delaware Department of Education, would give students the opportunity to participate on the sports team consistent with their gender identity and select a “preferred name” that school officials would be obligated to use in their daily interactions.

Indian River’s board of education at its Nov. 27 meeting joined an opposing movement that includes more than a dozen state legislators — including House of Representatives members from Sussex County — the Delaware Family Policy Council and scores of parents, whose primary fears are the regulations will strip away parental rights.

The state Department of Education received more than 11,000 comments in a public commentary period that ended on Dec. 4.

In response to that commentary, DOE Secretary Dr. Susan Bunting called for “careful review” of the comments. Sec. Bunting asked DOE’s Development Team to reconvene in January to carefully review the comments and make recommendations for possible changes to the regulation.

If substantive changes are made, the regulation will be published in the Register of Regulations again with another 30-day public comment period before any decision on a final regulation is made.

DSEA’s support was granted by its 27-member executive board on Nov. 29, according to DSEA president Mike Matthews.

“There was good feedback on both sides of Regulation 225 — for and against. Based on the comments and debate, the board voted (Nov. 29) to support Regulation 225. There were votes for the motion, votes against the motion, and votes to abstain,” said Mr. Matthews.

“There are representatives from each county. We have four down here. So, we don’t specifically have a say on the executive board,” said Mr. Emanuele. “We (IREA) specifically did not vote to support that. It was an item that our board was against and we knew that. When that (DSEA vote) came out I just didn’t want them (IRSD school board) to think that we were (in support). We are getting lumped in because we are part of that (DSEA). But we did not have a vote in that.”

IREA’s current membership is around 800. It includes teachers, paraprofessionals, nurses, custodians and secretaries. Opposition surfaced after the DSEA executive board vote.

“Afterwards, absolutely. Let’s put it this way; they (DSEA) are researching new procedures for when these controversial issues come up,” said Mr. Emanuele. “There was a lot of input afterwards.”

Mr. Emanuele is hopeful there will be more communication and input following DOE’s Development Team’s review and recommended changes in Regulation 225.

“What that does, with the DSEA, there is basically going to be a re-vote if they make changes to it,” said Mr. Emanuele. “And there will be procedures hopefully in place where there is going to be a lot more input before the executive board makes a vote on that.”

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