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West Jordan transgender student responds after parents ask district to change bathroom policy

Sep 27, 2023, 10:54 PM

WEST JORDAN — A transgender student and her parent are speaking about comments made at a Jordan School District Board meeting Tuesday night when a handful of parents urged the district to reconsider policies for transgender students using the bathroom.

The topic discussed was not on the board agenda, and at this time the school district board is not set to take up the conversation of bathroom use.

However, during the public comment portion of the meeting, parents voiced passionate opinions, as some urged the board to make changes while others urged continuing the current policy.

‘I don’t think it’s complicated’

Rob Sivulka organized parents to attend and speak about the policy Tuesday night and explained in an interview with KSL TV Wednesday that he found out from his daughter, a Fox Hollow Elementary School fifth grader, that a transgender girl student was using the girl’s multi-stalled bathroom.

He said it made his daughter upset, and Sivulka went into the school to speak with the principal.

Sivulka said the school offered for his daughter to use the faculty bathrooms if she was uncomfortable. Sivulka thought the policy was that the transgender student would use the single-stall bathroom if they felt uncomfortable vs. the multi-stalled bathrooms.

“The school didn’t tell us what was going on. We had to find it out from our girls,” Sivulka said. “I think that’s unconscionable if they’re going to have a policy in place, then it’s the parent’s right to know what the policy is instead of them just enacting it.”

 

Rob Sivulka

Rob Sivulka sits at his kitchen table the day after organizing public comment at the Jordan School District Board meeting (KSL TV)

He said the school told him that they were following Title IX.

The Jordan School District told KSL TV it follows Title IX federal law banning sex discrimination and harassment related to gender identity in schools.

“Title IX’s been around for 50 years now and all of a sudden, they’re interpreting this as being sexual identity discrimination? It just didn’t make sense,” he said.

Sivulka is hoping the Jordan School District Board will look at the policy.

“The issue is a policy that needs to be reversed and that policy is what’s dangerous here,” he said.

He and others Tuesday urged the district to more clearly identify and categorize who can use what bathrooms. They also talked about potential legislation at the state level.

“If a person feels uncomfortable with their biological sex, then please use the single stall bathroom. That’s what I would like to see,” Sivulka said. “Somebody last night said, ‘Yeah, this is a very complicated issue.’ I don’t think it’s complicated at all.”

‘She’s just a person’

The transgender student Sivulka’s daughter was referencing is 11-year-old sixth grader Alison Sirivanchai.

She and her father, Jesse Sirivanchai, also showed up to Tuesday night’s meeting upon finding out that parents planned to speak out against transgender students using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

“It’s kind of hard to exist when every year without fail, people are questioning you, who you are, telling you that you’re not who you are, challenging everything,” Jesse said, in an interview Wednesday.
Alison and Sirivanchai listened to parents Tuesday evening talk about their concerns. Some expressed worries about violence or making others not feel safe.
The sixth grader said she wanted to have a peaceful talk with those parents.

 

Jesse and Alison Sirivanchai

Jesse and Alison Sirivanchai stand outside Fox Hollow Elementary School Wednesday (KSL TV)

“I’m not here to hurt their daughters,” she said. “It’s just not going to be an issue. It won’t happen. All I want to do is be comfortable, and be in the bathroom.”

Alison also talked about safety fears of her own, and the feeling of not being accepted by others at school. She said in one instance before she came out, boys tried to kick her out of the boy’s bathroom.

“It’s like, what bathroom am I supposed to be in? Because when I just went into the boy’s bathroom, it made boys uncomfortable,” she said.
Using the faculty restroom, she said, made her feel like an alien and that she didn’t belong.
“You would think that, oh, it’s just the bathroom. It’s not a big deal,” her father said. “But it becomes a big deal when it helps you confirm who you are.”
Sirivanchai said this school year, the district and Fox Hollow Elementary School have been supportive of his daughter. He expressed wanting Alison to be able to go to school and be treated normally.

“She’s just a person, like their children,” he said. “There’s nothing to fear, she’s just another child.”

The Jordan School District released a statement talking about following Title IX and wrote: “The District works with individual families to provide a safe and welcoming environment for every student. Anyone with concerns on any issue at a school is encouraged to reach out to the school principal.”

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West Jordan transgender student responds after parents ask district to change bathroom policy