BATAVIA, N.Y. – Batavia High School students will start the year with question-and-answer sessions about one of their teachers: He's undergoing a sex change.
Diagnosed with a transsexual disorder, the teacher is still going through a medical transition but will return to school in the fall dressed as a woman — and addressed as a female.
Administrators, counselors and psychologists who have received training in gender identity issues will hold the forums with students when the school year opens on Sept. 6.
Superintendent Richard Stutzman said Thursday he hoped the discussions, to be followed by a meeting open to the public, will keep the issue from becoming a distraction in the classroom or at school functions.
"What we're asking people to do is come to the meetings to learn more about it," Stutzman told The Daily News of Batavia, adding that the district was withholding the teacher's identity on medical privacy grounds.
"The kids are my biggest concern right now. I want to make sure that we truly address the needs of our students," he said.
Stutzman also scheduled a meeting for staff and parents Monday to outline the medical and legal concerns surrounding gender transformation. Under state and federal laws, a person with a transsexual disorder is considered disabled and protected from discrimination and must be reasonably accommodated by an employer.
"I'm not saying people will accept this, but at least there will be an understanding," Stutzman said. "I feel the more people learn about this, people will understand."