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Education

COOS COUNTY — When classes reconvene in August, students now have the option to choose “non-binary” as a gender.

The Oregon Department of Education announced this change to be more inclusive following “a historic ruling by a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge in 2016 that allowed an (Army) veteran to identify as non-binary,” reported The Oregonian.

According to The Oregonian, this ruling gave Oregon the chance to become the first state to issue non-binary driver’s licenses, identification cards and birth certificates.

Locally, this news is being received with open arms at the Coquille School District. Superintendent Tim Sweeney told The World when he first heard of the change passed down from ODE in June, he said, “If that’s what makes students comfortable, we’ll be supportive.”

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During the eight years he has been superintendent at district, there have been students who didn’t want to select male or female on their forms, but wanted to select non-binary.

“It was rare, we saw it three to five times,” he said. “But we’re flexible when it comes to that stuff. We’re here to support students, not make unnecessary hurdles.”

At the North Bend School District, Communications Specialist Brad Bixler sent The World a copy of one of the new forms for students. 

"To better support all students, North Bend School District updated our enrollment packet last spring to allow students the ability to select a non-binary gender option," Bixler wrote in the email. "This new form has a gender field that is now a fill in option. Students enter their gender of choice. Our school registrars then enter a student’s gender designation into our student database management software as male, female, or X."

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.

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