Regulation 225: Thousands of public comments focus of careful review

DOVER – Upon further review.

Delaware Department of Education Secretary Dr. Susan Bunting is calling for careful review of thousands of comments on proposed Regulation 225 – a controversial anti-discrimination regulation that would allow Delaware public school students to self-identify their gender or race without parental input, notification or consent.

The public comment period for Regulation 225 closed Monday, Dec. 4.

The state Department of Education received more than 11,000 comments, according to DOE public information officer Alison May.

Sec. Bunting has asked the Development Team to reconvene in January to carefully review the comments and make recommendations for changes to the regulation.

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

Ms. May added that Sec. Bunting thanks those who shared their feedback during the formal comment period. All comments received will be posted online so the public as well as committee members can review them prior to the Development Team meeting in January.

This initiative began in July when Gov. john Carney directed Delaware’s Department of Education to develop specific guidelines – by regulation – for school districts and charter schools to use in developing their own local policies that prohibit discrimination against students.

This regulation is designed to help districts and charters create consistent policies statewide that prohibit discrimination based on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, genetic information, marital status, disability, age, gender identity or expression or other characteristic protected by state or federal law.

The proposal has drawn vehement opposition from the Indian River School District, the Delaware Family Policy Council, 14 House of Representatives members including all from Sussex County as well as of parents.

A number of parents expressed opposing opinions during public commentary at the Nov. 27 IRSD school board meeting, fearful the proposed regulation will take away parental rights.

The proposal is supported by the Delaware State Education Association’s executive board.

The pending Regulation 225 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.

The effort spurred by Gov. Carney also includes a model anti-discrimination policy that each district and charter could adopt, or tailor and adopt, to suit the needs of its students.

In a joint letter to Sec. Bunting sent in November, 14 legislators stated that the “regulations proposed by your agency are not authorized under the law and seek to usurp local control in favor of imposing a politically motivated ideological solution on all public schools. Just as disturbing, the proposed rules contain no student age threshold and have no provision for safeguarding parental involvement. As structured, these rules would allow the youngest of students to make profound life decisions without the knowledge or input of their parents.”

The letter to Dr. Bunting adds that “additionally, the DOE has apparently not assessed the potential risk these rules would impose on the general student population and the administrative and liability issues it could create for local schools. Some advocates of these rules have said they are needed to protect transgender students from harassment, but students are already shielded by existing anti-bullying policies that apply to any student subjected to disrespectful or abusive treatment.”

Rep. Collins has said if the proposed rules are promulgated he would organize a lawsuit to strike them down.

“The problem is that they don’t have any law that authorizes this,” said Rep. Collins. “It’s a very simple concept: you have to have a law and then you use regulation to enforce the law.”

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