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Our View: Spelling out safety

Are we concerned that the Ashland School District received only a bronze star in the Oregon Safe Schools & Communities Coalition's annual report for its policies against harassment, intimidation, bullying and cyberbullying? No.

Should the district do a better job of stating its policies so it can qualify for a gold star? Sure, but it won't make Ashland students any more protected than they already are.

This is a district where the high school last year chose three students as homecoming "royalty" but did not designate a king and queen so as to be gender-neutral. This is a district serving a city that hosts the annual Southern Oregon Pride Festival celebrating diversity and inclusion.

The district's policy clearly bars discrimination, harassment and bullying based on "race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, marital status or age."  That seems clear enough, but it's not quite complete, according to the coalition.

Missing from that list of protected groups are gender identity and gender expression. Elsewhere in the policy, "sexual orientation" is defined to include "gender identity, appearance, expression or behavior."

So all the bases are covered, but the coalition wants that information to be clearly stated in the policy, not buried in a related definition. The idea is that a student or parent unfamiliar with the district should be able to read the policy and see that gender identity and expression are clearly included as protected.

It never hurts to get it in writing.