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Policy Protecting Transgender Students Under Fire

A school board in Orange County refused to implement a state policy that protects transgender students (search), saying the measure is immoral and promotes transsexuality.

The Westminster district's five-member board voted 3-2 Thursday to reject the anti-discrimination policy during a meeting that drew hundreds of parents and teachers.

Westminster is the only one of California's 1,425 school districts to refuse to endorse the 1999 state law that gives boys who consider themselves girls and girls who regard themselves as boys the right to pursue discrimination complaints.

Donna Scott, a parent, said the board should obey the law.

"How dare you use my child as a human shield for your discrimination, your fear, your hatred," she said.

Board members Judy Ahrens, Blossie Marquez-Woodcock and Helena Rutkowski argue that adopting the state's definition of gender would be immoral and promote transsexuality.

Jack O'Connell (search), the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, sent a letter to the district asking the three members to change their minds.

"If you refuse, I will take all available steps to compel your compliance," O'Connell wrote. "Do not victimize the very people you claim you are serving."

The district, about 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles, serves 10,000 elementary and middle school students. More than $40 million of its $68 million budget comes from state and federal sources.

The state Department of Education has threatened to pull millions of dollars if the district is not in compliance with state law by April 12. 

Other conservative school boards in Orange County (search) have in recent years moved to ban a high school's gay-straight alliance club and tried to sue Mexico to recoup the cost of educating immigrant children.