Black River Falls School District adopts new gender plan

Plan allows for more communication between the school district, students and parents, says Superintendent Shelly Severson

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WKBT) — The Black River Falls School District adopted a new gender plan this week geared toward students who are questioning their gender identities.

The plan is aimed at facilitating better communication between a student, the school district and parents, said Superintendent Shelly Severson.

“I feel like that’s our job — to do all that we can to help that student feel that sense of belonging,” Severson said.

Under the plan, the student, a parent and a school official sign a set of documents, Severson said.

The documents address questions related to how public or private the information about a student’s gender will be at school, among many other scenarios.

The papers also include a provision that allows for future meetings with school officials if a student is considering a gender transition.

“We talk through it with the student and the family,” Severson said.

Still, some in the community do not agree with the new plan.

School Board member Troy Webb, who was not present for the vote on the gender plan, said he believes the plan creates privileged classes for students, based on whether they’re part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Webb said he would like the gender plan to be amended to let any student bring issues to the district’s attention and he’s calling for more discussion.

“I think right now there are a lot of people who are perceived one direction or the other and they’re not willing to go ahead and actually have a dialogue,” Webb said.

Some opponents of the new gender plan used hateful rhetoric toward supporters of the plan on Facebook and during recent school board meetings, Severson said.

On at least one occasion, Severson said, religious pamphlets were given out by school-age youths at Black River Falls’ middle and high schools. The pamphlets contained “derogatory” remarks, she said.

“That was very upsetting,” Severson said.

Recent News Headlines from News 8 Now 

Sparta School Board names new superintendent after investigation, resignation

UPDATE: Winneshiek County, Iowa, girl missing since Sunday located safe in Tennessee

Four winning lottery tickets sold on same day in Cashton and Elroy

New pedestrian bridge in La Crescent will provide safe way to cross Hwy. 61