The Medford City Council discussed at length Tuesday the impact of recent state legislation on transgendered students in Medford schools.
City Council Robert Penta wanted the council to discuss the bill, referred to on the council agenda as the "Massachusetts Stealth Bathroom Bill," because he believes it could have a major impact "on every homeowner who has a child in the public schools."
There is a requirement that schools "need to accept a student's gender identity choice," according to Penta, who also said he spent time discussing the bill with the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition advocacy group as well as Medford Schools Superintendent Roy Belson.
Penta said his biggest concern was regarding usage of bathroom, locker room and changing facilities within Medford schools.
According to the memo, Penta said a student may go to the school department and say "he is a she, or she is a he, or whatever their choice may be."
Penta said the school's concern is that such a declaration must be a "sincere affirmation" and that ultimate decision lies with administrators to recognize such a choice.
As part of the memo, Penta said "the student may access the restroom, locker room or changing facility that corresponds with the student's gender identity."
Continuing to read from the memo, Penta said "some students might feel uncomfortable with a transgendered student using the same sex-segregated bathroom, locker room or changing facility. This discomfort is not reason to deny access to the transgendered student. School administrators and counseling staff should work with students to address this discomfort and foster understanding of gender identity to create a school culture that respects all students."
Also, according to Penta, "the school does not have the responsibility and may not contact the parent to let them know what their student or child is doing."
Penta also said the law impacts school sports, as "all students must be allowed to participate in a manner consistent" with their gender identity.
Belson has informed Penta that at the present time Medford schools "really haven't been innundated with any kind of issue that presents itself as a problem."
Several members of the public addressed the council, including Medford School Committee member Paulette Van der Kloot, who said the bill would not present an "overwhelming" change locally.
Van der Kloot said issues of "confidentiality and privacy" for documentation purposes will be ones the city "will have to be very clear on in the future."
The Rev. Noah Evans, priest of Medford's Grace Episcopal Church, said he has transgendered members of his congregation.
He felt the school guidelines are "excellent" and "very thoughtful in protecting youth during a very difficult time."
Offering a unique perspective was the Rev. Cameron Partridge, a Medford resident who serves as the Episcopal chaplain at Boston University and is himself transgendered.
"It matters to me that we have these directives which I found to be really amazing," Partridge said. "They give me a lot of hope."
Penta moved the council resolve its support for the memo, however the motion was tabled after Councilor Rick Caraviello suggested the council take more time to fully review it.
The Medford School Committee will be discussing the bill and its impact on local schools at their meeting next Monday.