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FISHERS, Ind. — Many students and parents within the Hamilton Southeastern School district want language in the districts non-discrimination policy about protecting students based on gender identity.

They say the school’s policy is too vague and needs to be more clear about the protections of certain groups of students.

That topic turned an HSE school board meeting into a heated argument Wednesday night. It started as school board Vice President Sylvia Shepler was voicing her skepticism of such language.

“Now it seems like being straight is less acceptable almost,” said Shepler. “It is now becoming more and more acceptable that it is cool, it’s popular. It is having a gold star in the eyes of their peers. Why wasn’t this condition acceptable in the past and it is now.”

That comment sparked outrage among transgender students and supporters of those students at the school board meeting.

“Hearing someone say the reason I am trans is because I am on social media too much or I am trans because of my previous mental illnesses that I am diagnosed with, that is just part of the identity and coming out with it and all that,” said Jace, a transgender HSE student to WISH-TV. “It hurt coming from someone that holds power over me.”

Another board member then suggested adding in specific language that would protect students and employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity. That language didn’t make it into an amended non-discrimination policy that passed by a 4-3 vote.

“We can’t further progress if we are not further educating ourselves on topics that we are maybe not comfortable talking about,” said Jace.

Jace hopes the board will add it in at their next meeting in May.