The Fremont County School District 1 board voted to remove gender orientation, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status and veteran status from its non-discrimination policy on May 17. (Sofia Jeremias/WyoFile)

Let me set the record straight: School boards are nonpartisan bodies. Full stop.

School board members do not run for office as Democrats or Republicans. We specifically campaign and operate separate from political parties to ensure we work directly for the kids of the district, remaining independent of party planks and platforms. In fact, according to the Fremont County School District #1’s ethics policy, our obligation is to “[r]ender all decisions based on the available facts, independent judgment, and refusal to surrender that judgment to individuals or special interest groups.” Those special interest groups include partisan political parties.

Opinion

At a recent school board meeting we voted, in a split decision, to remove several phrases from our anti-discrimination policy. While the board remained nonpartisan, that action was inherently political — it involved a politically elected board voting on public policy. During the meeting I attempted, apparently poorly, to draw the distinction between partisanship and the act of policy-setting. My words were quoted in this publication in a way that, while textually accurate, gave the impression that I had equated the two. As chairman of the trustees, the integrity of the district is of critical import to me, and thus I want to take this opportunity to assure your readers, and the district stakeholders of FCSD#1, that each of the trustees who sits on our board understands and takes seriously our role of independence from partisanship and special interests. We serve for the interests of the kids, not the parties.

I also feel it’s important for me to assure the students and staff of our district that nothing we did on May 17 removes or endangers the rights of anyone who attends school or works at FCSD#1. Every member of our educational community deserves respect and should feel safe to learn and thrive regardless of their personal qualities. The FCSD#1 Board of Trustees and all our administrators are in perfect alignment about this topic: Bullying is not tolerated at FCSD#1, no matter what flavor it takes. 

The action taken at our recent board meeting modified our anti-discrimination policy to read: “Fremont County School District #1 does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or disability.” In this statement we removed the separate clauses of sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, pregnancy and veteran status.

Those changes have been controversial and warrant some explanation. To set the stage, let me pose a few questions to your readers: Are members of the Catholic Church covered under the “religion” clause? How about atheists? Are Native Americans covered under the “race” clause? Are individuals with intellectual disabilities covered under the disability section?

Of course the answer to all is “yes,” yet you won’t find the words Catholic, atheist, Native American or intellectual disability mentioned in most anti-discrimination policies. People who belong to these groups are covered by law because they are all either definitionally, or through case law and Supreme Court rulings, part of broader protected classes. The actions taken by the FCSD#1 Board of Trustees simply applied this same logic to sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, marital status and pregnancy.

Bostock vs. Clayton County recently informed us that gender identity rights are part and parcel to sexual discrimination. Long-standing precedence tells us the same for sexual orientation, marital status and pregnancy; and veterans’ rights are clearly covered under other federal and state statutes. Because they are legally part of their respective protected classes, they need not be explicitly mentioned in statute nor policy for those protections to remain in place.

Put another way, the action taken by FCSD#1 merely cleaned up the language of our anti-discrimination policy while leaving all existing protections for members of those groups intact. In terms of politics and policy, FCSD#1 took our cue from other political bodies that have wrestled with this same topic. Specifically, the United States Department of Education’s website landing page on anti-discrimination does not include the groups that were excluded, nor does the State of Wyoming’s anti-discrimination statute or the Wyoming Department of Education’s anti-discrimination policy. As a board, FCSD#1 simply modified our policy to adopt the same, or extremely similar, language endorsed by those three national and statewide policy- and legislative-setting bodies. 

Members of Congress and the Wyoming State Legislature are responsible for creating legislation. WyoFile readers help elect them to make decisions on topics like anti-discrimination. School board members are elected to focus on educational priorities. What FCSD#1 did on May 17 was nothing more than recognize that political separation: Let your senators and representatives focus on anti-discrimination laws, and allow the school board to get back to the critical role of educating our kids.

Jared Kail

Jared Kail is a multi-generational Wyoming native who serves as the chairman of Fremont County School District #1’s school board. His background is in computer application development and business, and...

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  1. I appreciate Jared Karl’s effort to explain his Board’s decision. He seems to be saying all classes will be protected from discrimination whether or not specifically mentioned. That being the case, why not include the classes determined to be important to the students the Board serves? Why take the easy out and defer to the State’s anti-discrimination statute? Karl says, “. . . allow the school board to get back to the critical role of educating our kids.” Sounds good, Jared. But doesn’t educating kids include more than curriculum?

    By the way, any time someone is introduced as a multi-generational Wyoming native, I don’t know if I should give their opinions more or less weight.

  2. It seems a bit disingenuous that removing those ten words “cleaned up” the policy. If leaving them in place would have lent more specificity to the policy perhaps more people would have felt safer. I don’t believe bullied people ever feel safe. But, perhaps the school district attorney will feel safer now that those ten words are removed in case of future litigation.

  3. As Mr. Kail pointed out, special laws for special interests are unnecessary, as existing anti-discrimination laws suffice. One unintended consequence of the unnecessary lockdowns of schools across the country is the exposure of the special interest indoctrination of children in the classroom. Countless videos of radical teachers sexualizing children surfaced, and could not be justified by any rational person. Parents have awakened and are effectively protecting their children from this abuse. This administration is now trying to force the special interest agenda back into the schools by hi-jacking funding for school lunches, and creating yet another department of censorship in violation of the First Amendment. The Wyoming Attorney General should join the fight against this tyranny. Wyoming could learn from Gov. DeSantis on how to effectively fight the radicals.

    1. The fringe chrumpers want to protect children from an imaginary vampiric pedophile ring.

      The fringe chrumpers want to save the children from the horrors of imaginary CRT complaints.

      The fringe chrumpers want to stop those “radical ” leftist teachers from indoctrinating children so that their parents bigoted and racist beliefs aren’t as easily exposed.

      The fringe chrumpers want to enlist children and their teachers (the teachers that aren’t trusted) to carry guns to protect themselves from school shootings because they refuse to support common sense gun laws.

      But, fringe chrumpers think feeding a hungry kid is a step too far towards socialism. More proof that the fringe don’t give a damn about a kid once it is born.

  4. Nice attempt at damage control, but I think Chairman Kail said what he meant and meant what he said on May 17. The suggestion that this action was merely to “clean up” the language in the policy is laughable. This action was a political statement that is consistent with the recent hysteria over the “LGBTQ agenda” and “grooming” of students that school boards across the nation have been bombarded with. Perhaps Chairman Kail could explain how this action serves the critical role of educating our kids. While he’s at it maybe he could also explain how defying public health orders and approving an incomplete and ill-conceived conceal/carry policy serves that role.

  5. Thank you to you and your likeminded colleagues for bringing logic, truth, and leadership the education system.

  6. Partisanship is not the issue here. Failing to provide for the safety of our students and staff is the issue. Students don’t learn when they feel threatened and student after student begged the board to retain the language of the anti-discrimination policy because it made them feel safer. Bullying IS tolerated at schools as indicated by the statements of the board member who said, in essence, that bullying has always existed and always will. And as evidenced by the repeated testimonies of students who are bullied on a regular basis. I believe that the school administrators work hard to respond to reports of bullying, but the problem is so deep rooted that students, and staff, are afraid to report. That is why the anti-discrimination policy was changed in the first place. The community identified a problem and took steps to bring it to light by clarifying that gender identity, sexual preference, pregnancy and veteran status are included in the anti-discrimination policy. By removing that clarification you pretend that you can make the problems disappear and make those who suffer discriminatory behavior, especially bullying, invisible. You embolden bullies who create unsafe learning environments. I don’t understand how the board could ignore over 2 hours of pleading from students, staff, and the broader community, and expect those same people to believe that they are still protected and safe.

  7. Jared,

    Thanks for your helpful explanations. – they are appreciated in today’s increasingly polarized atmosphere.

    Pete