By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
New language to be adopted into the governing policies of the Garden Grove Unified School District will provide more specific protection to students in terms of cyberbullying and gender identification.
“These are additions and expansions to policies we’ve had in place for a very long time,” said Alan Trudell, GGUSD’s public information officer. “It’s not as if bullying has been tolerated until a recent point. We want our students to feel safe, so we meet with legal counsel regularly to update our policies, to make them even with the most recent legal precedent.”
The changes to policy were introduced at Tuesday’s school board meeting. Included in the policy updates are Uniform Complaint Procedures [No. 3119], Non- Discrimination- Employees and Applicants [No. 4010], Non-discrimination-Students [No. 5111], Inter/Intra District Attendance [No. 5113], Bullying [No.5141] and Harassment on the Basis of [the individual’s] Sex- Students [No. 5161].
Two of the biggest changes to be made are Harassment and Student’s Individual Sex, No. 5161 and Bullying, No. 5141
The policy for harassment in relation to a student’s individual sex seeks to prevent harm and discrimination towards all students in the manner of how they present themselves in relation to their personal identity.
In the updated policy, the term “sex” includes a person’s gender, gender identity and gender expression.
The term “gender expression” means a person’s gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.
Simplified, this is that a student cannot be discriminated against for dressing or presenting himself or herself in a fashion or manner that is different or opposite to the sex they have been born as.
“We want our students to be safe,” said Trudell.
Bullying is defined in the new policy to include cyber-bullying and says it is, “any severely or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act, and including one or more acts committed by a pupil or groups of pupils . . . directed toward one or more pupils.”
The policy extends bullying to cyberbullying, which includes the “posting of harassing images messages, direct threats, social cruelty and other harmful texts, sounds or images on the Internet, including social networking sites.”
It also includes examples of posing as another person on social networking sites, sharing of defamatory information, sharing photos of others without their permission, forwarding hurtful/offensive emails or text messages and retaliating against a person for saying they have been bullied.
All the new and updated policies, once approved at the next school board meeting, May 15, will be in the student, parent , staff and teacher handbooks for the 2012-2013 school year.